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