A newly formed coalition of watch and jewelry industry organizations is working to increase the number of trained watchmakers in the United States. For the first time, an organized effort will seek methods to attract new watchmaking students, identify training standards and explore the need for consistent certification processes. The American Watch Association is coordinating the effort in conjunction with Jewelers of America, the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute and the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
A committee to examine uniform standards, chaired by Peter Laetsch of FSWI, will work with AWI, JA and technical experts from individual watch companies to evaluate existing training programs. According to JA Chairman Ed Bridge, JA's Certified Bench Jeweler Program may provide a useful template for future training programs. The committee will also examine a certification program already in use by AWI.
In addition, Dennis Phillips, Ebel watch company president, chairs a public relations committee that will design a campaign to inform high school placement counselors about the watchmaking profession. The group will also query watch companies, retail jewelers, independent watchmakers and others to determine the specific requirements of the industry, which has in recent years experienced service delays and quality concerns due to a lack of trained watchmakers at a time when jewelers report record-high fine watch sales.
- by Michael Thompson