Industry News, Oct 2015

October 5th, 2015


Chelsea Clock Welcomes the Governor of Massachusetts

By Aaron Recksiek, CW21

Group PictureThe Governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, visited Chelsea Clock in September  to dedicate Chelsea’s new headquarters in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Governor Baker was joined by state and city representatives as well as the Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Jay Ash. The political entourage was met by Chelsea Clock CEO, JK Nicholas, and all the employees and invited guests of the Chelsea Clock Company.
    Governor Baker received a Chelsea Clock as a gift in 1998. The people he had worked with pooled their money and presented him with a Presidential Clock as he was concluding his time in state government. Governor Baker gave a special speech at the dedication and honored the company for being a “national treasure” and “holding the living memory of Massachusetts’s history.”
    A week earlier, the Chelsea Clock Company held a private event with employees and family members where each of the 40 employees was presented with an engraved brick from the original factory to serve as a memento of all the history that took place there, and to thank them for their hard work as they made the transition to the new location. The move concluded a monumental undertaking of moving, tracking, and organizing over 100,000 spare parts and 55 pieces of manufacturing equipment. This has been the only move for the 118-year-old company since their founding in 1897.
    For more information on the Chelsea Clock Company, read the review of the second edition of Chelsea Clock Company: The First Hundred Years in an upcoming issue of Horological Times.

Each of the 40 Chelsea Clock employees received a commemorative brick from the original factory.






Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21 10/2015

October 5th, 2015

“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”


Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI PresidentYour true success in life begins when you make a commitment to become excellent at what you do, according to Brian Tracy, who helps individuals and organizations achieve their goals. Are you committed to being the best watchmaker or clockmaker you can be? If you are, then you must practice every day doing the best work you possibly can. Challenge yourself to learn as much as you can about this profession. You learn by attending every class you can, checking out books from AWCI’s library, watching a video, working with a mentor, or asking someone who has experience in whatever your endeavor is. If you have a timepiece that you wish to learn about, ask questions and read about it. Study it before you take it apart. Photograph it as you disassemble it, which will help you particularly if it is a complicated watch or clock.
    You have heard me say develop a network of people you trust and can rely on for help, but you must also be willing to give back.  You can’t get more than you give any more than you can take a pint container to the well and bring back a gallon of water. You can’t give a frown and expect a smile in return; neither can you give anger and expect kindness in return. What you give with a generous heart you will get back multiplied many times.
    Let’s go back to the root of the word excellence, which is excel: to surpass, to be superior. In our labors let’s strive for excellence. Will you obtain perfection? I don’t believe so, but you can come pretty darn close. It breaks my heart to see a nice timepiece with burrs under the bridge, or solder on a bushing in a clock, or the many other types of poor workmanship that we encounter. We’ve started a new column in HT, “Watchmaking Excellence: CW21 Standards,” which will show good work and bad work side by side. This will help us in our pursuit for excellence. This information should be first presented to our members and then to the public, so they can see what good work looks like. We plan to have a similar column for clockmakers.
    Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” So, we should make sure that what we repeatedly do is good practice, because if we continually do subpar work, that will become a habit. We have heard that practice makes perfect. However, if your practice is wrong, you won’t attain perfection. Good work habits get good results.


Strive for excellence in your work.





Industry News, September 2015

September 22nd, 2015


Management Changes at the Henri Stern Watch Agency

By Aaron Recksiek, CW21

The offices and workshops of The Henri Stern Watch Agency are housed at 45 Rockefeller Center in New York City.Patek Philippe’s after-sales service center and sole goods distributor, located in Rockefeller Center in New York City, will be getting a new technical manager to oversee the 19 watchmakers and roughly 10,000 annual watch repairs sent in from around the nation. The Henri Stern Watch Agency is named after the son of Charles Stern, who purchased Patek Philippe in 1932. Henri Stern ran the original US distribution of Patek Philippe watches before taking over as president, sole owner, and managing director in Geneva in 1958. HSWA operates as a subsidiary of Patek Philippe SA.
    Long-time Head Watchmaker and Director of Technical Services, Laurent Junod, will be moving on to another yet-to-be-announced role within the company. Junod, a native of Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, has served the company in New York for the last 27 years.
    The post will be filled by David A. Bonilla from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, who is a 2007 graduate of the WOSTEP-sanctioned Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School. After graduating, Bonilla worked for the Swatch Group and an Omega boutique on Fifth Avenue for nearly four years before landing with Patek Philippe in 2010.  Bonilla is in his 30s and considered fairly young in the master watchmaking community. He has achieved Level-3 Watchmaker status with Patek Philippe in the five years he has been there.
    In a statement to the press, Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek Philippe USA, said: “We are very pleased to have David Bonilla’s talents at HSWA. He is a highly motivated and talented watchmaker, with all the tools to become a great leader within the workshop. We will be excited to watch him develop in his new role.”




Aaron Recksiek is an independent watchmaker in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was a graduate of the 2008 WOSTEP class at the Lititz Watch Technicum.

Industry News, August 2015

September 22nd, 2015

John Harrison’s “Clock B” Breaks World Record

By Andrew DeKeyser, CW21

John Harrison circa 1765Dubbed simply “Clock B,” the timekeeper designed by John Harrison some 250 years ago and made by clockmaker Martin Burgess, ran its way into the Guinness World Records on April 18, 2015, after running only 5/8 of a second slow over 100 days. Guinness described it as the “most accurate mechanical clock with a pendulum swinging in free air.” The trials were overseen by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and the National Physical Laboratory beginning on January 6 of this year.
    Harrison described this clock in his controversial book that he used to criticize his competitors and make the audacious claim that his clock could keep time within a second over a 100 day period. Burgess’s second attempt to construct that clock to Harrison’s exact specifications achieved this goal.
    The Harrison-designed clock features a grasshopper escapement as well as a light pendulum bob and large amplitude. Harrison sought to improve on the design of the verge escapement while utilizing Christiaan Huygens’s application of the pendulum to horology. Harrison, a self-taught clockmaker, often used wood in his early clocks because he was a carpenter. He made his first clock at the age of 20, using metal only where absolutely necessary. He preferred wood as a building material because he was very skilled working with it. He discovered that the wood of the lignum vitae tree was naturally greasy and acts as a self-lubricating building material. A tower clock he completed in 1722 has run continuously (other than a short period in 1884 for reconditioning) for more than 270 years. As his skills as a clockmaker grew, he invented the grasshopper escapement and the gridiron pendulum and befriended several other horologists such as George Graham and Thomas Tompion.
    John Harrison is best known for his invention of the marine chronometer. He dedicated his life to win the British government’s £20,000 challenge issued in 1714 to solve the problem of establishing longitude at sea within half a degree or two minutes time. When travelling west, the local time moves back one hour for every 15° of longitude. So, if the local times are known at two different points, the distance between them can be calculated, thus establishing longitude. Local time is established by the position of the sun in the sky at that specific time of year, and Greenwich local time is kept by Harrison’s marine chronometer.

“John Harrison and the Longitude Problem.” Royal Museums Greenwich website:
McKie, R. “Clockmaker John Harrison Vindicated 250 Years after ‘Absurd’ Claims.” The Guardian.  
Singleton, M. “John Harrison’s ‘Clock B’ Sets A World Record over 250 Years after It Was Designed.” The Verge.
Sobel, Dava and William J. H. Andrewes. The Illustrated Longitude. New York: Walker and Co., 1998.



Andrew DeKeyser is the owner of HCP Watchmaking in Sisters, Oregon. He graduated from the Lititz Watch Technicum with WOSTEP certification.

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, August 2015

September 22nd, 2015

The friendships that we make at these conventions are more valuable than you can put into words.

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI PresidentWHY COME TO THE CONVENTION? It is one of the great opportunities that you have to meet with other watchmakers and clockmakers. The friendships that we make at these conventions are more valuable than you can put into words. I know from experience that calling on a fellow craftsperson to lend a hand with a question, solve a problem, or supply that part needed to finish a job has been most helpful.  I’m proud to say that I can pick up the phone and call friends from the West Coast to the East, and everywhere in between, and get a helping hand. There have been a number of times that I have turned to these friends for instruction on how to handle a problem. Having these connections did not happen with one visit, but by going to conventions over a number of years. We sit alone in our workshops and we think about a problem, but someone else might see it differently. We are not islands alone in this world; we all need each other if we are to survive the parts problem that we face. If you get nothing else from the convention, building a network would be well worth your money and time.
    There are classes that will be taught by the very best instructors, such as our own Tom Schomaker. In my opinion, he is one of the best, if not the best, teacher of horology in the US. Many of us have gained valuable lessons from Tom that we have taken back to our benches and made money, saved time, and made our lives much easier.  He will teach a class on “Essential Practices of Water Resistance Testing.” I’m sure that you will take away something of extreme value for your business.
    Kari Halme, an instructor with Rolex, will teach a class on workshop setup and how to make it more efficient. He has logged many hours designing workshops that create the best workflow, thus saving time and money. He was born in Finland and attended a very prestigious school of horology in that country.
    Nicholas Manousos is the vice president of the Horological Society of New York and a technical editor for HODINKEE. He will give us an interesting presentation on the use of 3D printing in making a scale model of a coaxial escapement, and how it may apply to the future of watchmaking and clockmaking. This may be the way of the future for obtaining some spare parts.
    There will be a Clockmaker’s Round Table discussion. Bring your problem clocks and questions to our distinguished panel, consisting of Jerry Faier, CMC21, FAWCI; Bob Ockenden, CMC; and Michael Gainey, CC21. Maybe you can stump our panel.
    Jerry Faier, CMC21, FAWCI, will teach a class on how to adjust a clock escapement. Jerry runs a successful clock repair shop. He might give a few hints on how he runs his business.
    Our distinguished group of instructors will make it worth your time and money to come to Kansas City, but there is much more. You will gain a lot from the fellowship with other professionals in your field. My challenge to you is to join us in Kansas City and enjoy the convention.


to be continued next month
The Four P’s of Watchmaking and Clockmaking…



A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, September 2015

September 22nd, 2015

The Four P’s of Watchmaking and Clockmaking…


PFred T. White, CMW21, AWCI Presidenterseverance. The definition of perseverance is steadfastness in doing something difficult or delay in achieving success. It is a first cousin to patience. How many times have we as watchmakers and clockmakers been faced with a problem that took a lot of time to solve? And then there is the “ah ha moment” when we say, “Why didn’t I see that before?” Or you call a friend and ask, “Have you ever encountered a problem like this?”
     I was recently working on a 12 size Elgin that would stop after several hours. I purchased a new-old stock barrel thinking that might be the problem—but to my surprise, it did not solve it. I was suspicious of the third wheel. It was slightly out of true in the flat, and it was very difficult to see if it might be touching the barrel. After some time of trying, I was able to catch the wheel just as it touched the barrel. Patience and perseverance paid off. If you are to achieve success, you must never give up.
    One of the strongest images of perseverance in my mind is Hyvon Ngetich, a runner from
Kenya. She ran in a marathon and finished in 2 hours, 54 minutes, and 21 seconds. But that is not what is so fantastic. She would have come in first place but collapsed 1,312 feet from the finish line. Ngetich stumbled and fell when she was so close to the finish line, and then she crawled the rest of the way to finish in third place. Later, she didn’t remember finishing the race.
    Perseverance, a very strong quality, makes people push for success in whatever endeavor they try. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We as watchmakers and clockmakers must find a way to persist. It may require that we relearn some of the skills we learned as beginners in this trade. My advice is to never, never, never give up. Keep moving forward, searching for a solution to those difficult problems that we face, whether it is a parts problem or that stubborn watch or clock that is on the back of your bench.
    What seems impossible just hasn’t been done yet. It’s up to you to keep pushing on until you find a solution. Do you remember the first time you disassembled an ETA 7750 or any other complicated timepiece? Do you remember how difficult it seemed? After you’d done one or two, it didn’t seem so complicated. Steve Jobs said, “I’m convinced about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the nonsuccessful ones is pure perseverance.” You will never know what you can do until you try. So the next time you are looking at that complicated problem, keep on trying and never give up.
    Often people stop when success is just around the corner. A gentleman in Maryland caught the gold fever and went to Colorado and staked a claim when he discovered gold. He talked several of his friends into backing him, and he bought the equipment needed, went back to his claim, and hauled out enough gold to pay for the equipment. Then disaster struck—the vein ran out. He sold the equipment and the claim for pennies on the dollar and came home defeated. The person who bought the claim sought the advice of a mining engineer and discovered the vein only a few feet away, took out a large amount of gold, and became a rich man. When you feel defeated, seek advice from an expert. Success could be right in front of you.
    Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. Other people can’t stop you. The only thing that can stop you is yourself.



In Memoriam, William O. Smith Jr. – July 2015

July 15th, 2015

In Memoriam

William O. Smith Jr.William O. Smith Jr. and his daughter Gail.

William O. Smith Jr. passed away peacefully at his home in West Dennis, Massachusetts, on June 1, 2015 at the age of 88. His wife, Mary, and his daughter Gail were with him. Smith was a Certified Master Watchmaker and Clockmaker. He began his training at the age of 12 at the Western Pennsylvania Horological Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, founded by his father in 1936. In 1966, he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois to participate in a Horological and Micro-Precision Research Project. Subsequently, Smith established a Micro-Precision Technology program at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, where he taught until his retirement in 1984. In 1987, Smith founded Smith’s Time Shop, in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, now located in West Dennis.
    Smith was a past president of The Watchmaker’s Association of Pennsylvania and a Director and Fellow of The American Watchmaker’s Institute. Smith is author of many technical books including Twenty-First Century Watchmaking, Hamilton Electric Watch Repair Manual, and 28 volumes on chronographs and complicated watches.
    Smith enlisted in the Navy during WWII where he served in the Farragut Unit in Washington D.C., and later as head watchmaker at Ship’s Service in Norfolk, Virginia.
    He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Mary (Tomko) Smith; by his children, William O., III and his wife Karen; Mark A. and his wife Sandy; Kent R. and his wife Christine; Lynn M. Marlow and her husband Thomas (Pete); Gail M. Smith; Jill L. Conway and her husband Bob; and Sherri A. Smith; 12 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.
    Funeral services were held on June 8 in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, and burial followed at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts.  

Here are some remembrances of Bill Smith from some of his friends and colleagues at AWCI.

In 1995, the Massachusetts Watchmakers Clockmakers Association held a large reception for Henry B. Fried. Bill and Mary Smith were among the 100 or so people who attended that reception to honor Henry that evening. Henry remarked to those of us sitting at his table that there was another person in the room who deserved to be honored even more than he did. That person was William O. Smith Jr.

~Jack Kurdzionak, CW21, FAWCI

Bill Smith with Henry Fried in 1995 at an event honoring Henry Fried.
Bill and Mary Smith were wonderful people. I had the pleasure of working with them at AWI in the early 90s. I have used his incredibly well-illustrated chronograph series over the years. He graciously autographed several of his books for me. Mr. Smith will be missed.

~Robert Porter, CMW

My first encounter with Bill’s work was reading his description of vector physics of various watch parts (written in the late 1970s for AJH) and how and why the engineering designs functioned as they did. The thing that drew me in the most was his readability. He was the first horological writer I had encountered that I could follow in my head. As I read his descriptions, which not only read well but progressed logically, I got it the first time without going back again to pick up what didn’t fit. That is a special talent in writing that few authors possess. It immediately gave me a special respect for this man whom, at this point, I had never met.
    Several years later (by this time I had taught several classes for AWCI) while at an AWCI annual meeting, I bought a copy of Bill’s latest book, Twenty-First Century Watchmaking, with the intention of having him sign my copy. To my surprise, he wrote the inscription: “To my esteemed colleague, warmest regards, Bill Smith.” I was shocked. This was the first time I had met him, and I had no idea how he even knew who I was! When I asked him how he knew me, he told me that his “eyes in the field had eavesdropped on my classes and the reports were excellent!” It took me weeks to get over the compliment! Coming from this man who had a world-renowned reputation as an instructor, watchmaker, and professional was more than a compliment. It was a directive to raise my skill level to its highest and to share everything I knew with others. I think that was what strengthened my resolve as a practicing professional clockmaker.
    Sometime later, Bill and I joined our efforts in developing a more well-rounded education program for AWCI and their (at that time) Academy. We worked out several new items to use within the program frame that would answer some of the stated needs from industry that had been missing. Soon after that experience, I became Education Committee Chairman and redirected AWCI’s entire education efforts and certification programs. But as I worked on those items, I would have constant contact with Bill and get his opinion. Since he had dealt with the international community as well as the US watch community for so long, I felt he understood and knew what was needed. It was never a blind following, as Bill was too good of a teacher and debater to just give opinions. We argued many times, but even if I disagreed with him or his views on something, I could never get mad at him. He was just too kind of a person to let anything but intelligence and honesty prevail.
    He was a strong family man, and I got to see how he raised several of his kids—Bill and Gail, in particular. The kids I met seemed to share the same gentleness that Bill had. His wife, Mary, was no slouch here either. As Bill’s editor, she kept him in line as he worked.  
    In the end analysis of what we leave this world when we pass, all we can hope to do is leave it with some knowledge of what we hold to be the best, not only for ourselves, but for the future. We evaluate what we leave by looking at what the future does with what we offered. In my case, I garnered more than a comment in a book. I garnered a way of practicing my professional skills and a need to do them at the highest level; an honest desire to share what I have been given (skills, knowledge, and dispositions) by Bill and so many others; and a need to try to help those who share these desires and want to make our profession vibrant and productive. I will always miss the person, but I will never be without his contributions to my success.

~Jerry Faier, CMC21, FAWCI

Industry News, July 2015

July 15th, 2015

The Tom Scott Collection
More than 100 rare and important clocks, watches, and scientific instruments go on display

By Donna HardyUnique Surveying Compass

Assembled over 30 years by entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Scott, this collection contains over 100 clocks, watches, and scientific instruments. Forty-seven of the items were made by or have a link to Thomas Tompion (1639–1713) and his successor, George Graham (1673–1751).
    Perhaps the greatest leap in the mechanical evolution of clocks came in the second half of the 17th century, after Christiaan Huygens patented the application of the pendulum to clockworks, leading to greater accuracy. This led to scientific and technological advancements in this field, some of which are in this collection.
    Among the mechanical innovations by Tompion over this period were his grande sonnerie striking clocks, of which there are three in the collection, as well as pull-quarter repeat systems.
    Other highly regarded clockmakers, Joseph Knibb (1640–1711), Daniel Quare (1649–1724), and later Tompion’s successor, George Graham (1673–1751), are represented in this collection with some of their finest clocks.
    Prices range from £2,000 to £4.5 million ($3,054 to $6.8 million).
    A book has been written about the collection, The Golden Age of Horology, Masterpieces from the Tom Scott Collection. Look for a review of this book in an upcoming issue of Horological Times.  
    Exhibition at Carter Marsh & Co., Winchester, UK–

    Part I: July 4–25, 2015

    Part II: November 7–28, 2015

Miniature Ebony and Gilt Brass Mounted Striking Spring Clock


Donna Hardy is Managing Editor of Horological Times.

A Message from Our AWCI President, Fred T. White, CMW21, July 2015

July 15th, 2015

The Four P’s of Watchmaking and Clockmaking…


PFred T. White, CMW21, AWCI Presidentassion is defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” If you don’t talk about your work with excitement and enthusiasm, then you should find something else to do, because you are not passionateabout what you do. You should be enthusiastic when you talk to your customers about the repairs you are going to do for them. To you it may be another job, but to them it is a family treasure or a watch they may have carried through a war or other trying times in their lives.  If you are not passionate about what you are doing, then your business will never grow. To quote Wally Amos, the founder of The Cookie Kahuna, “The fuel that drives many of us is passion. If you are passionate about what you are doing, it is impossible to quit. Another strong supporter is Attitude. A positive attitude will see you through just about anything and everything.”  
    Show me an athlete who is not enthusiastic and excited about whatever game he or she is participating in, and I will show you one who is not a good athlete.  The same rules apply to watchmaking or clockmaking. If you are going to be a horologist, then why not strive to be the best horologist you can be?  Read books, attend classes, attend seminars and conventions, and find a mentor. You may think that what you are doing is the best way of doing that project, but when you talk with another craftsperson, he or she may have a better way of doing it and can do the project much faster than you can.  None of us should be an island: we all need a mentor, coach, or friend who will share information, parts, or moral support with us. I have learned more at a table over a drink or in a hallway exchanging ideas with others than I can put into words.  Develop a network of people you can call on to help you. But remember, it must be a two-way street: when they call on you, you must be willing to reciprocate.  Some of my best friends, those who are here and those who have passed on, have been watchmakers and clockmakers. These friends are passionate about what they do. You could say they love their job, their calling, using their God-given talent to satisfy their clients. Ewell Hartman, CMW, FAWI, had a saying: “Enthusiasm makes the difference.”


 I will say more about the Four P’s of Watchmaking and Clockmaking next month when I talk about perseverance. To be continued.   




June 10th, 2015

to our members who passed the CW21 from January – June 2015

Keith Dickey

Gabriel Ehimen

Tung Lu

Christopher Milton

Phillip Ridley

David Threlkeld

Scott A. Walters

Jennifer Yang

Janey T. Yu