Manufacturers Fund Watchmaking School
They pledge to underwrite expansion and faculty training
Three major timepiece manufacturers pledged $500,000 to the watchmaking school at Oklahoma State University, Okmulgee, OK. Representatives from the Richemont Group (which includes Cartier, IWC, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, Montblanc, A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Dunhill and Panerai), Breitling and Audemars Piguet flew to Okmulgee from Switzerland to sign the agreement earlier this year.
The money will be used over five years to expand the schools instructional capabilities and to enable more students to take classes. In January 2003, places will be available for 36 students, up from 24. Twenty students are currently enrolled.
OSU-Okmulgee was one of the first four institutions in the United States to successfully implement the 3,000-hour plan of study designed by the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program.
The money also will underwrite the cost of a six-month faculty-training program in Switzerland, additional courses for the faculty, new equipment and scholarships.
This sponsorship strengthens OSU-Okmulgees 50-year heritage of watchmaking education and positions us to train students for lucrative careers in advanced watch repair, says Dr. Bob Klabenes, OSU-Okmulgee president.
Watch manufacturers also benefit as trained watchmakers enter the market to service their products. The industry has been hurt by too few trained personnel as mechanical watch sales have soared. As a result, maintenance and repair delays have caused problems for many companies in recent years.
OSU, Okmulgee, OK; (918) 293-5180.
by Michael Thompson