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January 2000

Timepieces: News

Training for the New Century

Be sure your staff can handle new technologies and the increased service opportunities of fine watches

Newer technologies provide sales opportunities as well as potential service nightmares with timepieces. To avert the nightmares, make sure your staff or your service center are knowledgeable enough to answer consumers' questions about servicing.

Just this past year, leaps in battery-free quartz technology made training imperative. Examples include everything from breakthroughs in Seiko's Kinetic Auto-Relay to widespread use of ETA's Autoquartz, from light-powered to heat-powered watches. You can expect to see more of these timepieces in the next few years as their recommended service times near.

At the minimum, you and your staff should be trained to identify problems with any of these watches and follow up with efficient repair. The result: happy customers and invaluable word-of-mouth advertising.

Demand Outpaces Training

Watch service and sales training programs needed to meet these challenges still lag far behind demand – as they have for a decade –  but the outlook is brightening. Schools are adding and enhancing watchmaking courses, and watch companies are slowly increasing their technical outreach to retailers.

You also need to make the commitment and financial investment. If you send employees for training, you have to pay tuition. And if you hire someone new, be prepared to pay a higher salary for skilled watchmakers since demand outstrips supply. But the same technical expertise that will cost you more is solid justification for charging more for repairs and servicing.

If you want to send an employee for training or get referrals of recent graduates, you have a growing number of schools and other education programs to contact. The American Watchmakers - Clockmakers Institute, Harrison, OH, and St. Paul Junior College, St. Paul, MN, are launching an advanced 3,000-hour curriculum created by the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program this year. Other WOSTEP-certified schools in the U.S. are Paris Junior College, Paris, TX; North Seattle Community College, Seattle, WA; and Oklahoma State University, Okmulgee, OK.

You also can check the following schools and associations for training programs. All are associated with universities or are part of the Research and Education Council of AWI.

  • Bishop State Community College, Mobile, AL; (334) 479-7476.
  • Ellisville Jones County Junior College, Ellisville, MS; (601) 477-4075.
  • Gem City College School of Horology, Quincy, IL; (217) 222-0391.
  • Hiram G. Andrews Center, Horology Department, Johnstown, PA; (814) 255-8371.
  • Kilgore College, Kilgore, TX; (903) 984-8531, ext. 220.
  • St. Paul Technical College, St. Paul, MN; (612) 221-1408.
  • Winter Park Tech Clock & Watch Repair School, Winter Park, FL; (407) 647-2900, ext. 2293.

In addition, you can check:

  • Florida Jewelry & Watch Academy, Boca Raton, FL; (800) 630-4844,
  • National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, Columbia, PA; (717) 684-8261,

by Michael Thompson

Retailers and watch companies agree they must work more closely with schools to train students. Above, Angela Kunze, a 1999 AWI Academy graduate, performs classwork. She and all her classmates received multiple job offers.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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