Training for Tomorrow

March 1999


Training for Tomorrow

It's the time of year to investigate ongoing education for watchmakers and repairers

Retailers face a challenge in staffing a watch department: finding and training sales associates is a lengthy process and, even more importantly, finding a well-trained watchmaker is often difficult to impossible.

The challenge of finding watchmakers surfaced about a half dozen years ago as fine watch sales started to grow and those who entered the profession en masse after World War II began to hit retirement age. The dearth of younger watchmakers and stiff competition from watch service centers – which often have deeper pockets and more connections to hire from overseas – made life difficult for jewelers looking for someone new.

The long-term solution lies in educating the talent already in stores and encouraging those already attending watchmaking schools. Here are just a few of the programs offered by well-known educational institutions (we'll explore others in future issues). This is the time of year to examine the possibilities and enroll a watch department employee in a full-time or continuing education program.

Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology
This four-semester program starts in May, August and again in January 2000 at Texas Institute, one of the few schools to earn the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program 3,000-hour certification. Contact the school at 2400 Clarksville St., Paris, TX 75460; (800) 232-5804. Jerry Waters is chairman of the school.

American Watchmakers- Clockmakers Institute
AWI offers watchmaking courses as part of Project Extend, a continuing education program at AWI headquarters in Harrison, OH. Register at least 30 days in advance for:

  • "ETA Products," April 7-9, taught by Remy Waelchli, $150.
  • "Advanced Quartz Watch Repair," April 12-16, Chip Lim, $250.
  • "Repair of the Bulova Accutron," April 19-23, Henry Frystak, $250.
  • "Phase IV-Wheel Cutting Operations for Watchmakers," May 3-8, Roy Hovey, $480.
  • "Shop Management," May 12-14, Fred Burckhardt, $150.

In June, AWI conducts exams for certified electronic technician, certified master electronic watchmaker, certified watchmaker and certified master watchmaker. For prerequisites and fees, call Jim Lubic at (513) 367-9800. See "Timepieces/Repair and Education" in this issue (p. 68) for details about AWI's Academy of Watchmaking.

National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors
The NAWCC Repair Program offers the following courses at its headquarters in Columbia, PA:

  • "Horological Lathes," Aug. 9-20.
  • "Introduction to Watch Repair" (high school graduate equivalency diploma required), Aug. 30-Sept. 10 and Nov. 8-19.
  • "Staffing, Jeweling & Escapements," Sept. 20-Oct. 1 and Dec. 6-17.
  • "Hairsprings," April 5-16 and Oct. 25-Nov. 5.
  • "Wrist Watches," April 26-May 7.
  • "Battery Watches," May 17-28.
  • "Making Parts," June 7-18.
  • "Repair Problems," July 19-30.

Tuition is $440 per week plus $15 registration. Many courses have prerequisites. Specialty classes are also scheduled throughout 1999. Watch repair classes are taught by NAWCC master watchmaker Jim Michaels. Call (717) 684-8261,

North Seattle Community College
NSCC is one of the few WOSTEP-certified watchmaking schools in the U.S. Classes start in the fall. North Seattle Community College, 9600 College Way N., Seattle, WA 98103; (206) 527-3757. Steve Priesthoff teaches and oversees the courses.

– by Michael Thompson

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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