A Glimpse of the New Watchmaking Generation
By James Sprague
As with any profession, there will come a time for the current generation of watchmakers to pass the horological baton to a newer generation.
And, with that passing of the baton, there will also likely be the question of whether that new generation will be able to assume the responsibilities that come with keeping the profession alive and relevant.
If the three awardees of the 2023 AWCI Harold J. and Marie Borneman Greenwood Memorial Fund Grant are any indication, the new generation of watchmakers will be just fine in taking the baton from the current generation of watchmakers and keeping horology vibrant well into the future.
AWCI and the AWCI Education Library and Museum (ELM) Trust selected three watchmaking students as the 2023 AWCI Harold J. and Marie Borneman Greenwood Memorial Fund Grant awardees in September—William Duncan, a watchmaking student at the North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking; Micah Minjarez, a watchmaking student at Paris Junior College; and Samuel Mallow, a watchmaking student at North Seattle College Watch Technology Institute.
The annual grant is possible due to the Harold J. and Marie Borneman Greenwood Memorial Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, which was set up to assist watchmaking students. The foundation distributes the interest earned by the fund annually to the AWCI ELM Trust, which in turn distributes those funds in the form of the grant to watchmaking students who are enrolled at AWCI Research and Education Council (REC) schools, apply for the grant, and are recommended by their REC instructor based on either financial need, exemplary student achievement or both, as determined by the instructor.
The trio each received a $2,000 grant to assist with their educational financial needs and were selected from a pool of 12 applicants by a committee consisting of AWCI staff and past recipients of the award. The selections were based on criteria such as the student’s passion for horology, financial need, participation in the horological community, academic
achievement, and recommendations from their instructors or others.
Selecting the three awardees was a difficult decision, as all 12 applicants made strong cases for deserving the grant award. It was the largest pool of applicants for the grant that AWCI has had in at least the past five years.
All the 2023 awardees took long, winding and diverse paths from different backgrounds and professions to their current place in the watchmaking world. But, those backgrounds, pathways and experiences appear to have given them the tools to become successful in the world of horology.
Duncan, for instance, has worked for the transport company FedEx for the past 19 years, before taking the plunge and following his dream of being a watchmaker by enrolling at the North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking in Fort Worth, Texas.
It was a decision that didn’t come easy for Duncan, a Pennsylvania native and former Maryland resident, and his wife, Nakia.