The history of AWCI began with the early guilds and watchmaker associations that laid the foundation upon which AWCI is based. America’s first watchmakers society was probably the New Yorker Uhrmachers Verein, organized on March 26, 1866, by German immigrant watchmakers located in New York City. In the 1930s it was reorganized as the Horological Society of New York. Next, a group of Chicago watchmakers formed the American Horological Society in June of 1892. On August 13, 1917, the Associated Watchmakers of America was formed. Later, the Horological Institute of America was established on October 20-21, 1921.
In the time when the country was in a devastating economic depression, the United Horological Association of America was formed in May 1934. This was when the National Recovery Act, with its industry codes on hours and wages, was causing much confusion in the watchmaking industry. Formal discussions of merging UHAA and HIA began in May 1957, culminating with the formation of AWI in June 1960. Important advancements of the Institute are highlighted in the timeline below.
AWCI was organized as the American Watchmakers Institute (AWI) in 1960. This was the nation’s first unified horological organization. It combined the members of the United Horological Association of America (UHAA) with those of the Horological Institute of America (HIA) to form AWI.
During the years 1965-1967, the Research and Education Council (REC) was created to strengthen the relationship between AWI and those schools throughout the country that gave instruction in timepiece repair. Nine of the country’s most progressive horology schools joined to start the group.
At the annual meeting, AWI’s Affiliate Chapters were given an opportunity to discuss their mutual problems in advance, and then offered suggestions to the AWI Board for the first time. It was felt that this approach would enable AWI to be more responsive to the needs of all members. This practice continues today.
On September 28, 1971, AWI established a separate branch of the Institute to be known as the AWI Education, Library and Museum Charitable Trust (ELM Trust). The purpose of the trust was: 1) To lend all practical assistance to schools who engage in the teaching of horology, 2) To establish a horological library, 3) To establish a horological museum, and 4) To encourage and assist students in their horological studies.
AWI purchased their first headquarters building, a former bank building on a corner in Cheviot, Ohio’s business district (suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio). It was a granite and stone structure that was refurbished and occupied in 1976.
In January 1977, the first monthly issue of Horological Times (HT) was published. It replaced the previous bimonthly AWI News. The HT featured original technical articles written by leading horologists, timely articles on trends in the industry, editorials and association news. This magazine continues to serve the industry today.
With the continual influx of clock-related interest into the organization, a name change was recommended by the Affiliate Chapters to: the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute.
AWI moved its headquarters to a new 15,000 sq. ft. building at its current location in Harrison, Ohio. The building was designed to hold staff offices, The Henry B. Fried Resource Library, The Orville R. Hagans History of Time Museum, along with The Marvin E. Whitney Training Center with a watch and clock classroom.
The new millennium began on a high note. The Institute celebrated its 40th anniversay. For the first time, educational programs were offered at the expanded national convention.
To reflect the name change made in 1992, the Insitute formally changed its acronym to: AWCI. The Institute also implemented its first website.
Two new member awards were added by the awards committee. These were the: Outstanding Achievement Award and the Meritorious Service Award.
The Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary at the annual convention held in greater Cincinnati, Ohio. The Academy of Watchmaking at AWCI was very active and offered 21 watchmaking classes and 6 clockmaking classes, along with 12 certification exams that year.
AWCI: Our Future
The American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute’s mission is:
Setting Service Standards and Educating the Horological Community
We will strive to grow the industry through numerous avenues that include technical and business services, communications, education and certification. The Institute will also serve its members by providing and outreach and advocacy for the timekeeping or horology profession.
For more information on any topic pertaining to the horology industry contact:
American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute
701 Enterprise Drive
Harrison OH 45030-1696 USA
Toll-Free: 866-367-2924 (866-FOR AWCI)
Outside North America: +1 513-367-9800
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