Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
As Uncle Sam says, “We’re looking for a few good men and women.” AWCI needs your help. We are asking that you volunteer to give a small amount of your time to serve on a committee or any other task that may be asked of you.
AWCI is primarily run by volunteers. However, when you look around you see that only a small number of members are giving of their time. Have you heard of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule? Here’s an example: 80% of all sales are made by 20% of the sales force. You might see another example in action at your church or your civic club—80% of the work is done by 20% of the volunteers. And so it appears to be true for AWCI. Our membership is at 1,500+, so by applying this 80/20 rule we should have around 300 people volunteering. Unfortunately, we are not close to that number.
Only YOU can help to change this situation. We need you to step up and take part in a committee or to help do other jobs for our organization. Volunteers are not paid, but not because they are worthless . . . but because they are priceless. I can assure that if you answer this call, you will receive much more than you give. Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Are you willing to lose yourself for the betterment of our profession, to give a little time and see what reward you will receive?
As a young man, I came out of the mountains of West
Virginia having grown up in poverty. I was presented with the opportunity to learn watchmaking. One thing I always remember that Theodore White (cousin and master watchmaker) drilled into me was that you get in proportion to what you give. That started me on a path of sharing with others. Over the years I have developed friendships with watchmakers and clockmakers, some dead and some living, who have been willing to share and who have kindred minds. I am referring to networking. It is important to watchmakers and clockmakers of the future—and of the present—because it will help us to survive. So, by volunteering you can start to develop those friendships.
Volunteering is giving of your time, your energy, and yourself with no thought of what you will receive in return. “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” to quote Winston Churchill. My challenge to you is to give of yourself. Don’t be a part of the 80% who says let someone else do it; I don’t have the time; or my ax is dull (that is as good of an excuse as any). Be a part of the 20% who says I have a solution to that problem; I can do that; let’s try this—it might work.
In closing, let me quote Helen Keller: “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
I hope you will take the time to fill out the volunteer form you’ll find on page 21 in this copy of Horological Times.
Thursday, March 3rd, 2016
First 3D Printed Mechanical Tourbillon Watch
By Aaron Recksiek, CW21
For those of us watchmakers and clockmakers who have been salivating at the idea of being able to 3D print our own obsolete replacement parts, the 3D printing and horological worlds took a huge leap forward towards that ideal with the unveiling of Christoph Laimer’s Tourbillon watch. It’s a fully functional, complete tourbillon watch with all the components (except for some steel screws, pins, and washers) made of 3D-printed plastics: polylactic acid (PLA) or polyethylene terephthalate (PETG). That’s right, the hairspring, escapement, and mainspring are all made of common 3D-printed materials and a Ultimaker 2 printer that can be obtained for around $2,500.
Employing an incredibly unique design, the watch layout is mostly vertical, which makes it almost as thick as it is wide—98mm in diameter by 93mm thick. Instead of wheels and pinions attached to arbors with pivots rotating within jewels or bushings, the pinions and wheels rotate independently on steel pins that are fixed to the framework of the movement. This overcomes a common problem that has manifested itself and become troublesome in the past: How do you provide enough power to the escapement and balance while dealing with a material like plastic with a relatively low strength level? If you use the traditional method, the wheels and pinions need to be larger for added strength, making them heavier. This requires more power from the mainspring, and it becomes too powerful for the plastic to be a viable material. This also solves a spacing issue by allowing several wheels to be co-axial (sharing the same axis). For example, the escape wheel, balance, and another movement wheel share the same steel pin axis. The time is displayed around the outside of the dial with a triangle indicating the minutes and a circle indicating the hours.
Christoph Laimer is not a watchmaker (well, not in the traditional sense of the word, although some might argue for that title now). He is a Swiss engineer with a background in electrical engineering and computer science. The Tourbillon watch is his second horological passion project since taking some time away from his regular profession. In 2014, Laimer produced a wall clock also with a recoil anchor escapement, hairspring, and balance wheel. Instead of being hand wound with a mainspring, it is driven by a 1.2kg weight.
According to most standards the horological community is used to, the Laimer Tourbillon is by no means a precision instrument. I don’t need to tell you that by having a plastic hairspring the timekeeping will be marginal at best. The plastic mainspring will leave you with around 30 minutes of inconsistent power reserve. However, this watch still represents a significant feat in the ability to take an emerging modern technology and combine it with 200+-year-old traditions. With the technological improvements to 3D printers capable of printing in steel, brass, and other metals, 3D-printed parts that are traditionally recognized in the clock and watch industries seem to be just around the corner. The continued experimentation and refinement of this technology and processes would not be possible without pioneers like Laimer.
All of Laimer’s projects are open source, and the plans are free and available to download to produce a Tourbillon at home with your own 3D printer. They can be viewed on www.thingiverse.com/thing:1249221. If you don’t have your own 3D printer but would love one of his Tourbillon watches, he is currently taking customized pre-orders on his website www.laimer.ch/. The price is available only upon request.
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.
Thursday, February 4th, 2016
DARPA Calls for More Accurate Independent Timekeepers
By Aaron Recksiek, CW21
In our modern world, much of how we communicate and navigate is dependent upon perfectly accurate timekeeping, accurate to the atomic level. So far, much of this is done by synchronization and calibration with a reference signal received by GPS, radio frequency, or cell towers. Even in the clock and watch industry, more and more timepieces are produced each year that receive synchronization with a master clock, especially with the growth and popularity of smartwatches.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a division of the United States Department of Defense, is looking for more accurate and stable independent timekeeping devices. There has already been a lot of research and development of Chip-Scale Atomic Clocks (CSAC) since their first introduction in 2004. The current standard of timekeeping in a CSAC is +/- .00000000001 second in a stable, controlled environment. Over the last 10 years, however, there have been constant limitations with these clocks, sometimes the size of a grain of rice. Cost has always been a factor as well as differences in frequency with temperature fluctuations and loss or reduction of power—some of the exact same problems we encounter with
mechanical and quartz timepieces.
In December, 2015, DARPA announced the plans for the program Atomic Clocks with Enhanced Stability (ACES). The goal is to essentially duplicate what the famous British clockmaker John Harrison did nearly 300 years ago when he unveiled the H1, a marine clock capable of allowing ships to navigate more precisely. This earned Harrison £20,000, or £2.81 million in today’s equivalent. DARPA has designated at least $50 million to initially fund ACES, with the hopes that a more reliable atomic clock can be created. The requirements of the program are to create portable clocks that perform 1,000 times better than the current generation. They must be shock resistant and capable of withstanding extremes in environments and temperatures. The final product must also fit completely within an enclosure not exceeding three cubic inches, including all associated electronics, and run on .25 watt of power or less.
The need for these devices is multifaceted. The reliance solely on GPS synchronization has become too much of a problem. In the cases of an aircraft, ship, or soldier veering out of GPS signal, the uncertainty of location or orientation becomes exponentially compounded the more time spent out of range. The need for these clocks would become even more critical in the case of a complete loss of the GPS system. Every division of the Defense Department would benefit from the advance of this technology, not to mention the hundreds of industries that could also benefit from its use.
DARPA is hosting a Proposers Day at their headquarters in Virginia on February 1, 2016, where all interested parties can come together to have questions answered, present ideas, and network with other professionals leading into the beginning of this project. Registration for the event ended on January 25.
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.
Thursday, February 4th, 2016
Last month my message was “You Hold in Your Hands the Tools to Shape Your Own Destiny.” I would like to explore that concept a little farther. There is a young man here in Clinton, Maryland, who has an interesting story to tell. His name is Brian Pappas and he owns Mama Stella’s Ristorante Italiano. As a young man of 14, he went to work at the restaurant as a bus boy—cleaning the tables, vacuuming the floors, and doing any odd jobs that the owner asked him to do. While doing this job he said to me, “One day I will be a waiter here.” Time passed, and one day we were in the restaurant, and guess who our waiter was—Brian. He worked at this job for a year or two, and then he said, “My next job will be maître d’.” Not too long after he said this, he became the maître d’, and then he went on to be the manager. After several years as manager, he had the opportunity to buy the restaurant, and to this day he operates this fine restaurant.
So you see, you can be in control of your own destiny; it is entirely up to you. You can believe that good things will happen to you, and they will. It’s not enough just to believe, but you must work at it. There is no such thing as a free lunch. It takes a positive attitude, lots of study, and hard work to make good things happen. There are many opportunities for us to improve ourselves, by attending seminars, conventions, and classes at AWCI. One thing we should all strive for is learning more about our profession, whether we are a clockmaker or watchmaker—“It’s what we learn after we know it all that counts.”
We can attend an affiliate chapter convention or AWCI’s convention; there are plenty of chances to get an education. We should strive to learn something new each day. If we challenge ourselves each day, doing something on the lathe or working on a complicated timepiece, then we are improving. I cannot think of anything that is more boring than doing the same job day after day. If all parts were readily available and we could go to the magic wall and just pick them up, then where is the challenge? Such is not the case for most independent watchmakers and clockmakers. We have to track them down or alter the part or make it or have it made. We should continue to study micromechanics because that is going to be the way of the future of horology. As parts become more difficult to obtain, we must rely on our own skills.
Author David L. Olpin says, “Success is doing something you enjoy doing, doing it well, and having people appreciate you for doing it.” So it should be with us who work at the bench. A recent customer wrote me referring to his watch, “Reunited with my old friend Friday. Everything seems to be working fine.” Another customer states, “Have had it on since it arrived, keeping perfect time. Better than ever and looks great.” That is what makes it all worthwhile, doing a job that your customers appreciate. Because CUSTOMERS are the most important part of our business. Without them we have nothing. I believe that we do have in our control THE TOOLS TO SHAPE OUR OWN DESTINY. It is up to you what you do.
Thursday, January 7th, 2016
You hold in your hands the tools to shape your own destiny.
Wow, it’s 2016 and by now you have been to the parties and toasted the New Year and have made those resolutions that sometimes are so hard to keep. Some of us give our shop a thorough cleaning with the hope and belief that this is going to be a great year. We sharpen our screwdrivers, point up our tweezers, and, in general, check all of our tools to make sure they are in good working order. We might even buy something that we feel will help us to do a better job. What is the most important tool in our tool box? Perhaps you would say my tweezers or my screwdrivers or that tool that you very seldom use.
All of these are important but not the most important. The most important is you, because without you those tweezers, screwdrivers, and all the other tools cannot repair a clock or watch or service that customer that just came through the door. We hold in our hands the tools to shape our own destiny. It’s up to you to do what you wish with your life. You are in control. You are the driving force behind whatever you do. With a positive attitude you can change your world or possibly change the world one person at a time. Have you ever been in a room where everything was negative? Where one person felt everything was doom and gloom and they influenced the attitude of the entire room? You probably left feeling low and didn’t understand why. My wife recently went to lunch with a lady, and the whole time they were at lunch this person talked about members of her church in a negative way. Shirley said, “I will not go out with this person again because of her negative attitude.” On another occasion, she was with a former co-worker for a luncheon, and they talked about how well this person or that former employee was doing: one had gotten a promotion, and the other one had bought a new house. She came away with a good, positive feeling and looks forward to another visit with this person.
Have you ever been around someone who feels that the world is not treating them fairly or that they are owed something they did not earn? They usually get what they think about all the time, because thoughts become things. The best helping hand is at the end of your own wrist. Whatever you think about all the time will come to pass. Basketball players who are good at what they do visualize making that basket; that outstanding running back knows he is going to score. So it should be with horologists. Do you see yourself being at the top of your game? Do you see yourself working on complicated timepieces? Do you see yourself asking for a higher price for your work and getting it? Do you see yourself taking that test to become a certified watchmaker or certified clockmaker and passing it? Certification should be something that you do for yourself to see how darn good you are or can be—not to get a parts account. Remember: You hold in your hands the tools to shape your own destiny.
HAPPY NEW YEAR. MAY YOU BE BLESSED WITH GOOD HEALTH, PLENTY OF GOOD WORK, AND MAY YOU FIND ALL THE PARTS THAT YOU NEED TO DO THOSE JOBS.
Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
Business School Students Research American Manufacturing for Watches
“The Two-Week Experts”
By Elizabeth Graves
A group of MBA students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business were tasked with researching the possibilities for manufacturing watches, or watch components, in the United States. Since Detroit’s Shinola is not far from the Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they had some involvement in the project. In the report below, one student reveals the findings of her team.
The term “fire hose” has been used by students at Ross to describe the onslaught of intense experiences—trips, guest lectures, case competitions—students may encounter during our MBA program. Our first fire hose experience was the limited amount of time my team had to complete a case competition dealing with the watchmaking industry.
The objective of the case competition was to develop a strategy to bring more manufacturing back to the United States, specifically in the watchmaking industry. This competition required participants to identify a component of a watch that was best suited to meet this objective. As we sat through a day of presentations, all the teams seemed to come to the same conclusion: Let’s try to source the metal cases. Leather and cloth for watch straps seemed to be already sourced in the United States. Movements seemed to be a profitable secret the Swiss would never be willing to share. So watch cases were the most obvious choice.
Our Google search led us to a group of watchmaking experts, the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. For the next 30 minutes, the Executive Director, Jordan Ficklin, answered every watch-sourcing question we could think of. By the end of the conversation we were well on our way to becoming experts.
Our perspective on the watch industry is that it is steeped in tradition, which leads to cautious evolution, and this instinct is well founded and necessary. It’s a source of pride and the glue that binds a community of makers and wearers.
In that vein, the craftsmanship of the curious has been the key to moving the industry forward. From the adventurers who wanted clocks to cross the high seas, deep ocean, or outer space to those who experimented with quartz and solar panels, the watch industry, like time itself, is always moving forward. In that same spirit, we think the solution to sourcing cases in America is additive manufacturing technology (also known as 3D printing).
From our perspective, there are two types of additive manufacturing—the everyman printers and the printers that cost $500,000. They are truly worlds apart. We feel the top-of-the-line printing technology best suited to this cause is Binder Jetting. Binder Jetting is superior in both speed and versatility. Whereas regular additive printers print single layers at a time, Binder Jetting prints multiple layers at a time. You can think of it as a laser-jet printer laying down multiple drops of ink per swipe across a piece of paper. Where regular 3D printing is done in plastic, with Binder Jetting you can choose between plastic, glass, metal, and wax. After printing you then “bake” the layers in place for added stability. Many Binder Jetting projects are even produced like a shell, baked and then gone back and “filled” with a different material to suit its specific purpose (weight, durability, etc.) Unlike the everyman printer, this is not something that melts in the sun or cannot withstand pressure. This is a technology that is employed to make aircraft parts and fracking equipment. Binder Jetting shares the ability to create complex designs and can be finished in practically any material you can dream up.
The company best suited to the challenge for this case competition is called Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (rp+m) in Avon Lake, Ohio. We were very impressed with its CEO and founder, Matt Hlavin, who was not only kind enough to lend samples of Binder Jetting (to show off to the judges), but also impressed us with the fact that he is one of the leading experts in the field and has worked extensively with the equipment manufacturer to pioneer new materials that can be used to print. The big downside: during the course of our two weeks we did not get the chance to actually print a watch case and so we cannot say beyond a theoretically educated guess what these cases would turn out to look like.*
The big benefit we see as far as watchmaking is the ability for this technology to be so versatile, and once the process is refined 5 to 10 years down the road, 3D printing will absolutely be capable of making new watch movements for both a specialized watch and an old watch whose movements are relics of the past. It will be perfect for embedding your personally designed watch case with designs impossible to duplicate by conventional method(effectively making it copy-proof) or barcodes to scan with your smartphone to find information on where to take the watch for repairs or replacement.
So how did our competition go? We came in second place.
If you would like to learn more about Michigan’s part-time MBA or to follow our adventures online please check us out on Facebook and on Michigan’s website at: www.michiganross.umich.edu/programs/weekend-mba.
To learn more about the company we profiled in this article, Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing, please see their website: www.rpplusm.com/index.html.
Elizabeth Graves is a graduate student at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. When she graduates, she hopes to work with businesses that are environmentally conscious.
*Editor’s note: Vortic Watch Co., (www.vorticwatches.com) based in Loveland, Colorado, uses 3D printing to produce their All American Artisan Series cases using 316 stainless steel. The cases are finished with one of three patinas (Nickel Plated, Antique Bronze, or Medieval Pewter). The cases are also available polished and without a patina. See photos.
Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
First-Ever Swiss Mechanical Watch Testing in Microgravity
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.
Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
Wishing 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.
Monday, November 2nd, 2015
We 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.
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.
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.