Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Industry News, December 2015

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015


First-Ever Swiss Mechanical Watch Testing in Microgravity

Specially designed microphone rack with 10 individual pickups.


In the first-ever test of its kind, Witschi Electronic was on board a parabolic flight in September to measure the timing and amplitude effects of weightlessness and hyper-gravity on mechanical watch movements. The invitation was extended by Swiss Manufacture H. Moser & Cie, which had arranged to take complete watches and watch movements on one of the first-ever Swiss parabolic flights. H. Moser & Cie CEO, Edouard Meylan, participated in the testing with his team, including members of their sister company Precision Engineering AG, and a development engineer from Witschi. The 30 watches and manufacture movements provided were equipped with in-house oscillator and escapement components. The testing was done to gather data about using new materials in escapements and hairsprings, as well as different hairspring end curves, varying frequencies, and lubrication.  H. Moser & Cie produces about 1,200 watches per year, while Precision Engineering AG produces 50,000 escapements and oscillators per year. The company expects the data compiled during the testing to improve the development process and isochronous performance of their timepieces. They also expect to achieve several new patent applications.
    The watches were tested by Witschi using a custom-built Chronoscope MR featuring 10 individual microphones mounted on a single rack connected to two laptop computers. A lot of planning and preparation went into setting up the instruments. The equipment had to be secured to the aircraft floor to prevent anything from shifting around and becoming a safety hazard. They also built a special soundproofing hood to protect the microphones from the incredibly loud aircraft noise as well as vibrations that could disturb or skew the readings.
The first Swiss-based parabolic flights were launched on September 21 and 22, 2015. The Dübendorf military airfield is only the second European location to offer the microgravity experience. The University of Zurich and the French company Novespace are working together to offer the flights. The first day of flights consisted mostly of scientific experiments, while the second day offered flights to anyone willing to pay nearly $10,000 for a 90-minute experience. Each flight can accommodate up to 40 people.
    Traditionally used by space agencies to train astronauts, a parabolic flight is a way of creating near-weightlessness using fixed-wing, reduced-gravity aircraft specifically modified to perform repeated parabola, named for the trajectory the aircraft takes during the flight path. Each parabola lasts 65 seconds. First the aircraft climbs at a 45-degree angle, creating almost twice the force of gravity for 20 seconds. The pilot then levels off the aircraft at the top of the arc of the parabola, creating microgravity and a feeling of weightlessness for 25 seconds until the aircraft begins to descend again at a 45-degree angle. During each 90-minute flight, the pilot performs the maneuver 15 times for a total of around six minutes of space-simulating conditions.


View of the entire timing setup.

Watches placed on their microphones being set up for the timing operation.








A Message from Our President, Fred T. White, CMW21

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015


Fred T. White, CMW21, PresidentWishing everyone Season’s Greetings from the Board of Directors and the staff of AWCI.  We have had a good year and many things have been accomplished, but there is still much work to be finished. Here are some of the highlights from the past year.

  • The spare parts directory has been up and running for a while. Everyone can see who will sell parts to the independent watchmaker, who is restrictive, and who is very restrictive. This information is for the consumer as well as the watchmaker.
  • We had one clockmaking class in Harrison. While we would have liked to have had better attendance, we have plans for more clockmaking education in the upcoming year.
  • Our watchmaking classes have been very successful. Instructor Tom Schomaker rejoined our staff earlier this year, and in addition to teaching in Harrison, he has taught some classes on the road and three at the annual convention.
  • We established a new Affiliate Chapter, the LWT Alumni Association.
  • We tried the webinar conference call for the first time in April with some success. This allows our members to sit in on a board meeting and keeps everything open to those who want to be informed. We did another in November and plan to continue with the program in the future. Call the office to see how you can join in.
  • At the midyear meeting we set some goals for the education committee and other committees. A new mission statement was adopted, which states: “Setting service standards and educating the horological community.”
  • We had monthly Board of Directors’ meetings to keep everything moving along. Our attempt to keep the meetings to one-and-a-half hours was successful for the most part.
  • Our convention in Kansas City, Missouri, was absolutely the best. Good classes for watchmakers and clockmakers were taught by a number of outstanding instructors. A very positive attitude prevailed throughout the entire convention. Everybody had a good time and came away looking forward to our next convention in Chicago.
  • We have plans to reach out to the retail community with battery-changing classes and to work toward doing more in the way of clock instruction. There is some interest in a new CMW certification. We’d also like to see more cooperation between watchmaking and clockmaking governing bodies.

I am looking forward to another great year in AWCI. Wishing each and every one a very Happy Holiday Season with health, happiness, and prosperity.






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

Monday, November 2nd, 2015


Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI PresidentWe are flying at 30,000 feet, traveling away from Kansas City. As we listen to the drone of the engines, the flight attendant says, “We will be coming through the cabin to collect any trash as we are preparing for our final descent into BWI (Baltimore Washington International Airport).” My mind races back to the  super-great week we have just experienced, starting off with our first class at Jules Borel & Company, taught by Henrik Korpela from K&H Watchmaking Competence Centre in Switzerland.  He taught High End Horological Decoration and Finishing. So much positive energy came out of that class. Every student found it interesting and came away knowing how to do finishes of various types, from bright screw heads to straight line finishes on watch parts. If we are fortunate enough to bring Henrik back, I recommend this class to any watchmaker who works on vintage watches or wants to match the finish on a new part. The class was two wonderful days and time well spent.
    On Wednesday, the Chronometer Club gave a class taught by Tom Schomaker on how to remove scratches from a dial and hands. Tom provided a burnishing tool to remove the scratches. There was a lot of positive feeling about this exercise, as we sat burnishing out the small scratch that we had just put in the dial. This too was an interesting class, taught by a very good teacher. This class was very well received, and I would recommend it to any watchmaker.  
    Then it was time to go to Jules Borel & Company for a tour of their material house. They had some nice food and refreshment set up for us. Their company was established in the 1920s and is now in its fourth generation of being in business. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU goes to them for all their help with this convention.
    Thursday we got into “The Rebirth of the Watchmaking and Clockmaking Spirit in America.” Our day started with our keynote speaker, Mr. Michael Wilson, Co-Founder and CEO of Niall Luxury, whose watch cases are made in Kansas City, using Eterna movements. Michael assures us that parts are readily available to us. Jordan and I had the opportunity to spend an evening with him and meet his lovely wife. We found him to be very passionate and enthusiastic about building watches in America and rebuilding that American Spirit.
    The Affiliate Chapter Committee chose David Kurdzionak for their Chairperson.
    The Industry Advisory Board chose Henry Kessler for their Chairperson.
    The Board of Directors met and elected Fred White, President; Drew Zimmerman, Vice President; Aaron Recksieck, Secretary; and Henry Kessler, Treasurer.  Also installed were two new Directors, Peter Whittle and Craig Stone. Jack Kurdzionak swore in the officers and new board members.  
    The next day, we toured Jules Borel & Co. Upon returning to the Hotel Phillips, we went to the Escapement Room Hospitality Suite, sponsored by Cas-Ker Co., where yours truly was surprised with birthday cake, a gift of a tie (since I had forgotten to bring ties), and a fifth of single-malt scotch.
    Friday was the Vendor Fair, which included presentations by many of our vendors.
    Saturday we attended classes: Jerry Faier taught a class on escapement adjusting, Kari Halme taught workshop practices, and Nicholas Manousos gave a glimpse into the future with 3D printing. There was a clockmaker’s round table discussion lead by Jerry Faier, Bob Ockenden, and Michael Gainey. Tom Schomaker gave us the Essential Practices of Water-Resistance Testing. All these classes were well received and well attended. Everyone had a good experience and took a lot of good information home with them.
    The ladies had three days of activities, including some shopping and visits to various museums.
    My summation is that it was our best convention in many years. The attitude was upbeat, and a great time was had by all. Thanks to Terry Kurdzionak, convention committee chairperson, Gary Borel and his daughter Jena Borel, Paul Wadsworth, and Jordan Ficklin and his staff—Donna Hardy and Cindy Whitehead were present. All of their hard work is greatly appreciated.  
    I recently heard that there is no “I” in “TEAM.” However, there is an “I” in “WIN,” and this convention was a winner. Thanks to everyone who contributed to its SUCCESS.

    More details about the convention will follow in December’s issue of HT.






Industry News, November 2015

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Patek Philippe USA Opens

Tuition-Free Watchmaking School

                                                                                     By  Aaron Recksiek, CW21


When we reported on the management changes at the Henri Stern Watch Agency in September, it was unknown where long-time Technical Director and Master Watchmaker Laurent Junod would end up within the company. After an official announcement from Patek-Philippe in early October we now know. Laurent Junod has now earned the title Director of Technical Training at the Patek Philippe Horology Programme New York. This newly established in-house watchmaking school is only the second of its kind outside of Geneva, Switzerland. Patek Philippe opened its first satellite watchmaking school in 2013 in Shanghai, China, at the prestigious Maison Patek Philippe Shanghai.
    Patek Philippe, like many other brands, recognized that the amount of repairs being received by their service center was going to drastically increase in the near future due to the favorable sales market over the last 20 years. Their US-based service center currently provides service to around 10,000 timepieces a year, currently split among 19 watchmakers. This number doesn’t include all the repairs that must be sent back to Geneva. Instead of requiring more repairs to be sent back to Switzerland and causing a longer turnaround time, Patek found it was necessary to train new watchmakers in-house to their products and standards. This in turn will free up the veteran watchmakers to handle some of the more complicated repairs that in the past would have made the transatlantic journey.
    The US-based school will follow the two-year curriculum already established in the Shanghai school. While the school follows a traditional watchmaking school calendar, the training is completely integrated into the highly revered Patek four-level tiered training system already available to qualifying watchmakers. Levels 1-3 cover all the basic skills required of modern watchmakers as well as all the skills needed to service and restore most of Patek Philippe’s quartz, manual wind, and automatic watches. Level 4 is reserved for the highly complicated timepieces such as repeaters and split-second chronographs. The current curriculum will graduate the watchmakers with a level-2 designation.
    The current candidates were found using a headhunter because of the secrecy surrounding the project. Out of the initial pool of 300 applicants, 80 were brought in for a formal interview and technical presentations. Six were chosen for the initial program. Classes will not be run concurrently, so the next group of students will not start until this same time of year in 2017. The tuition for the school is free, and the students are also given a small stipend to help them pay for rent and food in the country’s most expensive city. Once students complete the program, they will be offered a full-time watchmaker position with the company.
    Patek Philippe will begin to interview new candidates sometime next year. If you are interested in the program you should contact Patek Philippe USA at 212-218-1240.

Laurent Junod, Master Watchmaker for Patek Phillips for three decades, runs the school.

Six students were chosen from 300 applicants.









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

Industry News, Oct 2015

Monday, 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

Monday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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.