A Message from Our AWCI President, September 2014

Manuel Yazijian, CMW21, AWCI President

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It has been quite an interesting journey these past two years while at the helm of the ship called “AWCI.” This will be my last president’s message, as I am only allowed to serve a maximum of two years as per our bylaws. While there were requests and attempts by certain members to extend the term of the president to a third year, the Board of Directors will be deciding this issue at the annual convention in Clinton,
Maryland, this August. At the time I am writing this column, this decision has not yet been made, and you will be informed of this matter in a subsequent issue of this magazine.
     I would like to take the opportunity to thank our very own Terry Kurdzionak, who in her position as secretary has done an outstanding job of producing the minutes of our meetings as well as for her tireless efforts in organizing our annual convention. Thank you for your insight, your help, and your availability at all times to help with the running of our organization.
     Also, a personal thanks to Herman Mayer and his team of instructors from the Lititz Watch Technicum for teaching the outstanding courses over the past year in our headquarters in Harrison, Ohio. On behalf of AWCI, I thank you for your generosity. Your in-kind contribution has helped the institute as well as its members. Most importantly, you have made a lasting impression on all the students who attended classes taught by your professional team.
     Last but not least, I would like to thank the active members of the Spare Parts Directory Committee chaired by Drew Zimmerman for planning, contributing, and calling all the watch companies. Also a special thank you to Jordan Ficklin for the countless hours of work poured into this very important project and for taking care of the design and “electronic” side of it. The results of this project will be shared with the membership shortly.
     Many of you may not know, but when I first joined this organization in 1997, I was under the impression that by joining the only professional watchmaking organization of its kind in North America, I would automatically be recognized as a professional by watch companies that would subsequently grant me a spare parts account. I quickly found this to be not the case. I was quite disappointed when companies continued to refuse supplying me with spare parts, and I lost many nights of sleep. For better or worse, I was not deterred by this and continued to be more involved with AWI (which became AWCI in 2004), where I chaired the committee with the same name, and the Spare Parts Directory list was first published in 2004. Times were different then and the list was published only once in our magazine. While this helped a small segment of our readership at the time, we have now done it again. However, this time it is available on our website for all of the world to see. First, watch owners will benefit from it most as they will know which brands supply parts and will thus make their watch-purchasing decisions accordingly. Second, watchmakers will use it to see which brands will offer support. This will affect their decision as to which brands to work on and therefore not waste their precious time on uncooperative and restrictive brands’ products. The services and skills of those who work to the highest standards are an irreplaceable asset to watch brands, and, conversely, those who do not yet adhere to this code can be considered to be counterproductive to the brand image as well as to the whole industry. And third, watch brands can visit this directory to view the policies of other, more successful, and, quite often, competing brands. While a brand can choose to restrict parts, ultimately those who make parts available to qualified and professionally minded individuals who are properly trained will continue to prosper in this delicate luxury industry. Brands are encouraged to contact Jordan Ficklin, our executive director, to correct any erroneous information or to report a change in their spare parts policy.
     As stated on numerous occasions, the relationship between watch manufacturers, suppliers, retailers/jewelers, and independent watch-repair individuals is a delicate and important one to the point of being symbiotic. While many brands in the watch-manufacturing industry have more or less stumbled through the past decades all the way to the 21st century, it is true the face of the watch-manufacturing and watch-repair profession is always changing. Yet it seems the more it changes, the more it remains the same, for all one has to do is to read some of the older publications from the 1920s through the 1980s—it seems history is always repeating itself. While this last phrase is a cliché, it is also true that those who learn from history will be more successful, mainly by not repeating the mistakes of the past and most importantly by learning from the mistakes of others. Do we really need to reinvent the wheel?
     In this vein, in order for our ship to go forward and reach the common destination, it would be best if everyone could work together with mutual respect. Inevitably, there will be some disagreements between the various parties, for such is the nature of life. However, a common ground and a “meet me halfway” situation must be reached. Otherwise, we all will sail in our own directions, where some will succeed and others will fail, and we may be faced with yet another “lost generation” of watchmakers in the near future. Which of you wants to be responsible for single-handedly creating another “lost generation?”
     Ultimately, we can achieve much more if we can think “what’s good for the whole profession?” versus “what’s good for me?” My hope rests with the next generation as well as those who can step out of their own skin for a moment and think of how they can make it better for the entire industry.
As a forever message to all, always keep your skills honed, your standards very high, your attitude professional, your tools and equipment in great condition, and your workshops clean and organized, as this is the only way we will excel, not only as watchmakers and clockmakers but also as upstanding human beings.