Archive for May, 2016

A Message from Our AWCI President – Fred T. White, CMW21, May 2016

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Fred T. White, CMW21, AWCI President

Jordan and I visited four REC schools in April, and I want you to know that watchmaking and the allied crafts that are being taught are alive and well in the US, at least at the schools we visited. What a tiring—but exciting, uplifting, and inspiring—time these four days were! We started at Gem City College in Quincy, Illinois, where we met with Russell H. Hagenah, president; Ryan R. Hagenah, director of finance; and instructor, Jim Hush. We were told that we were the first to visit their school in many years. We assured them that we were there to assist and to help build up their program in any way we could.  After a good discussion, we offered them some things that we could do right away, such as help promote their school at the Maker Faire Austin in Texas, if they would provide us with brochures. We could also help them by lending them movements if they send their instructor to a REC training (date to be determined). We were made to feel most welcome and came away with a good feeling after our visit, and we look forward to working with them.
    After our Gem City visit, we got back in the car for a two-hour-plus drive to St. Louis for a plane ride of another two hours or so to Dallas, Texas. Then, we had another two-hour ride to Paris, Texas. After a night of rest, we met with Frank Pope of Paris Junior College. We toured the classrooms and shops, which were well equipped with plenty of space to work and grow. We gave PowerPoint presentations to roughly 50 students. Jordan gave a good presentation on what AWCI has to offer to the watchmaker and clockmaker, and what we can do for the student and the school. My PowerPoint presentation was from the perspective of the independent watchmaker, and I talked about what exciting jobs you may encounter as you go about doing your daily business. I also gave them some tips on selling the job, for this is important as an independent watchmaker, clockmaker, or jeweler. There was a lively question-and-answer period. Then we met with Frank Poye and discussed the school’s needs and how we may help meet them. One thing we could do if he would attend the REC training was to loan them movements for training purposes. We also let him know that students could receive one-year free membership to AWCI. We were told that Jordan was the first executive director to visit their school, and I was the second president. The other one was Fred S. Burckhardt. Everyone was very friendly, and we were made to feel most welcome.
    Then we were back in the car for another two-hour drive to Dallas, Texas, to visit with North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking (NAIOSW) where John Sokol welcomed us and invited us into his office. After a short visit, he called in Stan McMahan, Russ Peddy, Michal Blaszczyk, and Houston Clarke. Also visiting was Terry Irby of Tourneau. After exchanging ideas about the watch industry and getting a report on their operation, we were invited to tour their facility, which has the most modern equipment. We met with the students and gave them information about AWCI and watchmaking in the real world. NAIOSW committed to supplying us with two instructors for our convention, Stan McMahan and Russ Peddy, and are going to send their students to the convention. We were treated royally by them, topped off with a great meal at a Texas steak house. There was good socialization and, for me, time to reminisce with Stan about people we have known in this business. Then we went back to the hotel; we had to get up at 4:15 a.m. to catch a plane to Pensacola, Florida.
    After landing in Pensacola, we were in the car for a one-hour-plus ride to Mobile, Alabama, to visit Bishop State Community College. Along the way we found we had the time to go on the Battleship USS Alabama, which was a much-decorated battleship before it was retired. After a nice lunch, it was on to our appointment with Stephen Lange at Bishop State Community College where we met with the president, the vice president, dean, and the director of recruiting. We were made to feel most welcome. After some discussion, they were seeking ideas on how to improve their enrollment. Jordan and I shared our thoughts, which, I hope, will be helpful. We met with both the watchmaking and jewelry students and discussed what AWCI could do for them, and shared some of our work experiences. We also offered them the same program, free membership for first-year students, and invited them to attend our convention.
    I strongly feel we need to visit the schools, and the affiliate chapters, putting the name of AWCI and what we have to offer in front of students and members. There is so much that they don’t understand, because we, for whatever reason, have not reached out to the horological community. Let’s correct that in the future. My hope is that what we did will better the community. We look forward to seeing those students and instructors at the convention this year.


My hope is that
what we did
will better
the community.





Industry News, May 2016

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

The New Ronda Automatic R150Ronda-150-Movement-3D-Front

By Aaron Recksiek, CW21


Hidden within all the hype and fanfare of Baselworld 2016 was a little nugget of news that has the potential to change the industry in more ways than any other release or announcement.

RONDA AG, of Lausen, Switzerland, released details of their first in-house, Swiss-made mechanical movement in nearly 30 years. Ronda produced their first mechanical caliber in 1961, but didn’t stick to it very long. In the 1970s Ronda started dedicating resources to the new quartz technology that was sweeping the industry. They eventually discontinued all mechanical movement manufacturing in the late 1980s. This new movement has been in development for the last four years.
    The Ronda caliber R150 was designed to be a replacement to the size and dimensions of the ETA 2824-2, 11.5 ligne (25.6mm diameter) and 4.4mm thick. It is a high-beat, 28,800-vph, three-hand with date, ball-bearing automatic. The movement contains 25 jewels, Incabloc anti-shock settings, Swiss lever escapement, and a micro-regulator adjustment system. It is capable of a 40-hour power reserve, bi-directional automatic and hand winding, and hacking seconds. However, the performance leaves a little to be desired. The average rate can vary by ±12 seconds/day, and the maximum variance in all positions (delta) is 30 seconds/day. With an estimated final price of about 66 CHF or $68.30, the movement performs and prices out to be very comparable to the Japanese-made Miyota 9015 automatic. The Miyota 9015 has been a well-performing mechanical movement for many years. However, it still poses a problem for any brand chasing that elusive “Swiss made” label—a label that requires over 50% of the watch parts (by value) to be manufactured in Switzerland with final assembly and inspection also done in Switzerland. This “Swissness” requirement is set to increase to 60% on January 1, 2017.
    The new Ronda R150 is part of a new line of movements named Mecano. This new line of movements is planned to expand beyond basic automatics and become an entire family of mechanical calibers that are so desperately needed by the Swiss watch industry. There has been no word on which types of calibers are the next closest to being announced, but we can be assured that at each Baselworld from now until then, microbrands will be expecting something more out of Ronda.
    Some of the best news about this announcement is Ronda’s projected production goal: 100,000 units per year. Early delivery is set to begin in 2017. It is speculated that most, if not all, of the initial production is already spoken for. Ronda hopes to be at their production goal before December 31, 2019, when ETA has announced they will not be supplying movements or movement parts outside of the Swatch Group umbrella.
    Ronda 150 movement: bridge sieThere has been a slew of new “Swiss made” movements being developed in recent years to help replace the void that will soon be left by the ETA SA movement manufacture. This was the original vision of Nicolas G. Hayek, to eventually wean the highly dependent watch industry off the movements and components produced by the Swatch Group. Some see it as trying to force other brands out of business, but let’s remember it was Nicolas G. Hayek who was brought in to help save the spiraling Swiss watch industry in the 1980s. When you first look at the surface of the problems that might come from a stoppage in distribution, things may seem a little scary, but there is always fear of the unknown. There has not been this amount of independent research and development dedicated to providing the industry with different options since the 1970s. This continued competition for market share will only increase the quality and keep prices reasonable, which helps the small, independent watch brands.


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.