Skip navigation

The Lititz Watch Technicum

by J.Peter

Tags: , , , ,


SchoolWatchFaceI attended the Lititz Watch Technicum from Sep 2004 to Aug 2006. It was a wonderful experience and I recommend it to anyone who wants a career in watchmaking. The facility is truly amazing and the instruction is the best available. The program is constantly changing so I can’t tell you exactly what it is like today, but they follow the WOSTEP program which involves 3000+ hours of horological training. I attended classes Mon-Fri from 7:30 to 4:30. We spent 6 months working on micromechanical tasks (manufacturing parts) culminating in the completion of our “school watch” project.

The next 18 months are spent disassembling, assembling, oiling, cleaning, and repairing mechanical timepieces. The school is fully funded by Rolex, but stands independent. We spent most of our efforts working on ETA timepieces.

In addition to the schools supplied training movements each student brought in 30 outside timepieces for repair. Although funded by Rolex, there is no guarantee of a job from them, in fact they rarely hire their own graduates. The hope of the school is that you will go work independently (hopefully in a Rolex Jeweler.)

While at school I had to support a wife and son, which was pretty difficult. Lititz is a small town in the heart of Pennsylvania Amish Country CoveredBridgeand there are not tons of jobs available. I worked part time in the evenings at the Mercedes Benz dealer in Lancaster in order to (partially) support my family. Needless to say I incurred some debt.

Housing is relatively cheap in Lititz. 2 bedroom apartments can be found from around $500 –1000 / month.

LWT is a European style academy and you will be expected to work hard for the full 8 hour day. You are not allowed to miss class for any reason and there are very few days off. They encourage you to stay late and work on projects, and if at all possible I recommend you do so. I wish I had not had to work while in school because I could have learned even more. You can however complete your work during the scheduled day if you are focused. LWT is looking to train professional watchmakers, not hobbyists, and professionalism is the main thing it takes to get into the school. You need some mechanical aptitude, a strong interest in watches and watchmaking. You need to be able to communicate well both verbally and on paper. Previous watch experience is not necessarily a plus. They don’t want to have to break bad habits. Even if you have previous experience you will be expected to complete all the tasks from the beginning. After completing the application you will participate in a phone interview. If you get invited to come out to Lititz you will complete a mechanical aptitude test and a problem solving and reasoning test, as well as a small math quiz. Yes, some algebra may be required. Then you will have to complete some sort of mechanical tasks, perhaps filing, sawing, turning on a lathe, and some watch work. These tasks are just to see if you can follow instructions and have the potential to become a watchmaker. If you have the opportunity to ask questions, do so. They really like to see that you are anxious to learn. Think of questions for the staff as well as fellow students before you go.

Watchmaking is an exciting profession. I love it! Immediately after school I began as the only watchmaker at Beauchamp Jewelers in Albuquerque, NM. I make plenty to support my family. We have since hired another watchmaker. There is plenty of work out there and I encourage you to join the profession if you can.

I enjoy talking about my experiences at watchmaking school so if you want to know more just post a comment and I’ll respond.

UPDATE: Due to many requests I have made a new post about watchmaking math. In addition any questions about the current curriculum or costs of attendance, or questions about admissions policies should be directed to the staff of LWT at If you have questions about my experiences at watchmaking school just post a comment and I’ll respond.

For those of you looking to talk to some graduates of watchmaking school, or current students you should check out the LWT Students and Alumni page on facebook.

For more about my watchmaking education continue with posts about micromechanics. –>Micromechanics, Part I

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. J.Peter
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Of course, I remember you. I believe you’re not just “with” Chopard. You’re their head watchmaker in New York, are you not? I appreciate the kind words about my blog.

  2. david
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Im woundering what it all would take to get into the school im 20 and have simple experince in watchs but would like to pue sue watchmaking as my career and am willing to go where ever the job could take me

  3. Michael
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering if Litilz allows you to make your own watch, if so do you make everything gears and all, or just put your watch together with already made peices?

  4. J.Peter
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    David, It takes a couple things to get into the school: professionalism, work ethic, enthusiasm, mechanical aptitude, and basic math skills. The school is not easy, you are expected to work for 8 hours a day on tedious, monotonous tasks, but it is worth it. I’ll assume you wrote this post from your phone, if you didn’t you should work on your spelling skills before filling out your application. Professionalism is number one on their list for potential candidates.

  5. J.Peter
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    When I was at Lititz, and I believe today as well the school watch is the culmination of the micro-mechanical portion. You don’t make the gears unless you are very ambitious and have no after school commitments (this would be extra-curricular work). What you are expected to make are the bridges, a winding stem, and form your own hairspring. In addition it is common for students to design their own click mechanism, or balance staff. Many students refinish wheels and screws.

    I personally made a 3/4 plate, a balance bridge, a winding stem, a click, a dial and hands and refinished the ratchet and crown wheel and screws. I also converted the watch to a free sprung balance and formed an overcoil hairspring. The school watch is built from the ETA/Unitas 6497 base movement.

  6. Joseph Couturier
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I’m in the process of gathering more information on Lititz and other horology schools. I noticed that Lititz requires all students to purchase the tools and starter watch when entering the program. Would you mind explaining what the starter watch is? Is it the bones of a Rolex which the students assemble and keep at the end of the 24 month program.

  7. J.Peter
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    The starter watch is a watch which is used as the starting point for the school watch project ( see comments above) it is an ETA 6497 with case, dial, hands & crown and costs a couple hundred dollars. The tools are your lifeblood as a watchmaker and are well over $5000 but they used to give you a payment plan with everything due before graduation. These are questions which would best be fielded by the school however, as it has been 3 years since I graduated now.

  8. Simon
    Posted May 2, 2009 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi J.Peter

    Thank you for all your posts.

    May I know does Lititz accept foreign students and the annual living expenses (with a wife) at Lititz?


  9. J.Peter
    Posted May 3, 2009 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Simon, these are questions for the folks at Littiz. Please contact them. My understanding is you need valid work permits to apply at Lititz, because it is funded by Rolex, USA and they would like you to work in the US upon graduation. In addition Rolex does not cover any living expenses, but as I stated, only the folks at LWT can tell you for sure, I am just a former student.

  10. Jake K
    Posted May 5, 2009 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    Hello, J.Peter. I enjoyed reading this blog and have become more interested in the LWT.

    I have a couple of questions; how do I apply for enrollment, and when is an ideal time to do so? Also, I was wondering if you could possibly provide a basic, commonly used equation in watchmaking so I can get an idea of degree of algebra may be required.

    Thanks in advance!

    – Jake

  11. J.Peter
    Posted May 7, 2009 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Jake, for enrollment contact LWT at Look for a post this afternoon on watchmaking math.

  12. Jake K
    Posted May 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much! I sent an email to LWT with my inquiry for admission. I hope I receive positive feedback!

  13. Jake K
    Posted May 13, 2009 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    J.Peter – Great news! I did receive positive feedback from LWT after submitting my inquiry. Karen, the administrator, sent an e-mail back saying I pretty much answered every question asked on their applications. She said LWT was very interested in me and asked that I give them a call, which I did. We set up an interview appointment on the 29th, which filled the last slot for the last day of interviewing. Lucky for me!

    I did want to ask a question though. My grandfather graduated from the watchmaking school in Columbia, PA a few years ago and he has lathes and whatnot. Should I try to learn how the lathes work, and ask for some examples of math used before I go in for the interview? Admittedly, geometry has always been more of a strong point for me as opposed to algebra. Although I believe I may be able to pass the exam, I still am a bit nervous. What is your advice?

  14. chris
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I want to thank you for your blog. This has been very inspirational. I am curious about the number of job offers that your graduating class received? Also, is each person ranked in the class and are they recruited by different employers or do the employers contact the school and just post a position?

    How often are people given chances to continue their education, either here or in europe/switzerland? I absolutely love the complicated watches that I have seen while searching the internet and I would love to one day design something like these. Which leads me to my next question: How hard would it be to eventually go out on your own and build your own watch line?

    I know all of this sounds very ambitious, but we must start somewhere when we dream. I hope that I haven’t come across in the wrong way. Thank you for your time

  15. J.Peter
    Posted June 28, 2009 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    When I was at school there were informal class rankings, but there is a scoring system so you can rank yourselves if you wish. The school had a list of over 100 employers seeking full time watchmakers, it was the students responsibility to contact these employers and arrange interviews.

    Continuing education depends on your place of employment. The most common form of continuing education is brand training. The more brands a store carries the more likely you are to get in for training. Rolex tends to bring in watchmakers from Rolex Jewelers about every 2 years for a week of training. The annual AWCI convention and their continuing education courses are always available as well. WOSTEP’s swiss campus also offers an advanced course.

    As for starting your own watch line, that is ambitious. This is probably work for someone with background in design, and marketing, and business, or perhaps a team. There are a very few who have been succesful in such an endeavor and the WOSTEP training isn’t a bad starting ground for the technical knowledge needed. If you want a large brand you should probably pursue watchmaking and microtechnical degrees from Swiss Universities, not a two year program in the U.S.

  16. April
    Posted July 10, 2009 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    My husband was recently admitted to Lititz and is leaving for school this September. Did your wife travel with you or remain in your hometown? I only ask because we currently reside in Florida and only recently married. The distance will take a little getting used to. Do you have any advice for things he might need for school? Anything you wished you had when you started? We are both really excited and nervous about his schooling. Was it pretty easy to find a job up there? I know you haven’t been there in a few years but any advice would be welcomed! Thank you!

  17. J.Peter
    Posted July 11, 2009 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    April, my wife and son came with me to Lititz. 5 hours by plane for two years just would never have worked for me. I like to have my family close.

    The only thing I wish I had had more of during school was time, but with a wife and son to support it just was impossible. As for work, you just have to find what you can. The staff at the school will be more helpful than I will in this regard. They are very caring and willing to help you find housing and send you the classifieds or whatever. I arrived in PA a little bit early so I could take some to find a job and that really did help.

    Congratulations and best of luck!

  18. A. Baddouh
    Posted July 15, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I must say, it ranks among the best as far as inside information on watchmaking goes. Kudos for you!
    I have plans to enroll at LWT but I do feel like I need to brush up my math and writing skills. Therefore I will take some math and writing classes at the local community college first.
    I do have a few questions (among many others) that I think you could answer, and all I am looking for is your personal opinion, not a formal answer.

    I have a watchmaker friend of mine who is willing to teach me the basics, more so that I can get used to handle small parts and look through the loupe than anything else.
    Do you personally think that this would help if I get accepted at LWT? I am pretty handy with delicate work but I never worked with micromecanical parts.

    I am curious about the Thesis project at LWT. Can you comment a little bit more on that? I don’t need to know exactly what you where supposed to theorize about, but it would help if I knew more about it.

    Thanks for this amazing blog,

  19. J.Peter
    Posted July 20, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Improved math and English skills are never bad. If you work with your friend you just need to be careful not to pick up any bad habits. Trying to improve your motor skills would be great.

    As for the thesis project I know it has changed a lot since I was there. It is supposed to be more of a research project now, whereas before it was a restoration project. I don’t know a whole lot so you should ask about it when you interview.

  20. kate
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink


    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences at Lititz. I nurse my own little watch obesssion and I’m fascinated by the school. Can you shed any light on the male to female ratio of students when you attended? Thanks!


  21. J.Peter
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    All the classes I am aware of had 1 or 2 females in a class of 12. They were all very good watchmakers. We definitely need more women in this profession.

  22. Greg
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    How has your work been affected by the economy? Have you had more repairs come in or less?

  23. J.Peter
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Probably not at all. Repair loads always go up and down and I had an up cycle from Oct to Mar than a down cycle until August and now I’m on the upswing again. There was never a time when I didn’t have work it was just a matter of how long people had to wait for their repairs.

  24. Adam
    Posted January 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I found your article to be quite informative I want to say. I am actually in the process of researching different schools that offer the Watch Making and/or Repairing curriculum. Being a graduate from Lititz Watch Technicum I was wondering if you could perhaps recommend some other WOSTEP based schools that you are familiar with or have been acquainted with since your graduation. I am trying to research as many possible schools as I can and any information you can give me will be much appreciated. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


  25. Edouard
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi there ,
    I have been trying to get information on how to apply and i never received an answer from them.
    I would like to know the cost for the full program and well i guess pretty much everything.
    thank you.

  26. Edouard
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi there ,
    I have been trying to get information on how to apply and i never received an answer from them.
    I would like to know the cost for the full program and well i guess pretty much everything.
    thank you.

  27. J.Peter
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    They would have been closed over the holiday break. Be patient, I’m sure they will get some information out to you.

  28. J.Peter
    Posted January 8, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Try this article on becoming a watchmaker:

  29. monina
    Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful blog..I just stumbled upon it when I googled Lititz Watch Technicum. I am really interested in appying to the program and have submitted an email inquiry on how to apply. I know its been a few years since you attended but you have the general info on how the process works. When does the class start for the year? I will be relocating to that area in summer of 2011. Also are the classes limited to 12 students? are there many women? I have been in the fine jewelry industry for many years, sales primarily with a GIA GG degree but I have always been fascinated with watches and would love the opportunity to learn and work in the art of watchmaking. I am also not in my 20’s let’s say I am going to be 40 this year so do they frown upon that? I hope not…Also what is your experience with finding work? is your workload steady? Is there opportunity to be independent or is it best to be with a jewelry store? Planning to stay in the Lititz/Lancaster/Hershey area since my husband is relocating there for a staff position with a hospital.
    Any info is much appreciated
    Thank you

  30. J.Peter
    Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Classes start in September and go full-time for all but 3 weeks of the year. 12 students per year. Yes there are women, maybe 1 or 2 out of the 12, but often they are the best students. They do prefer younger candidates, but you wouldn’t be the first 40 year old.

    As for the potential. I have loads of work. The industry is trending towards retail watchmakers instead of independents, but both are still possible. If you are an independent you might want to specialize in vintage watches or restoration.

  31. Bill
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Hi JP, first off, let me just say God bless the internet! lol only on internet can we find a blog of such caliber. thank you.

    I am 36 yrs old, and am just concerned about my age, the passion and the drive is there. I will be filling out the application this weekend. Will it be too late to apply for September admission?

    I wanted to know about your age, if you don’t mind. at what age did you attend LWT, and of course I am also concerned about the costs. it’s nice to have free tuition. but I think I will have to find a part time job there if I get accepted. is a single person getting a part time job there able to make it financially? and besides tools and projects, what other costs are involved with school in general, and is everything all on this payment plan that you have mentioned. thanks in advance, when I can think of more, I’ll be sure to let you know!

  32. J.Peter
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Bill, I was in my mid 20s when I attended watchmaking school, as were most of the students, but I have seen students as old as 40. I don’t know if it is too late now for admission to the school, it depends if they have filled all the slots or not. The best way to find out is to call the school. Things have changed so much at the school since I left, that I have no idea what the payment terms are like there anymore.

  33. Bill
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    thanks for the feedback JP. I will give the administration a call. Thanks again.

  34. Nik
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    JP, thank you for your amazing and inspiring blog!

    I have a question about WOSTEP school in Switzerland. Do you know what their admission test consists of? It probably shouldn’t differ from Lititz too much. I was just wondering what areas of math it usually cover?

    Thanks in advance!

  35. J.Peter
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I do not know about the test in Switzerland, but it could likely differ a lot from the U.S. version.

  36. Dipankar Barua
    Posted September 6, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    It’s a pleasure that much of opportunity is waiting. I am interested in this field when I first heared in BBC radio program. But it seems to me difficult to bear high expense as a people of less previlleged country like Bangladesh. Is their any other cost effective institution where I can apply for this field by support of study grant or scholarship.

  37. Dre
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Hello, your site is great and has been very informative. I have an interview at Lititz next month and I’m really excited. I’m very interested to hear how you were able to support yourself for the two years at the Technicum? It seems almost as if you have to be independently wealthy to be able to do this program. How does one of modest means make it at Lititz?

  38. J.Peter
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Dre, While at LWT I worked at a car dealership in the evenings and on weekends. I had other classmates who worked full time, second shift, and others who worked part time. If you need to work to support yourself (i.e. mom & dad won’t be supporting you) then you simply have to forego a social life for two years. I was married and had a son, I really had no choice but to work. Jobs were easier to come by in 04-06 than they are now. I also took out some student loans which I have since repaid.

  39. Dre
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Did you find it difficult to get student loans due to Lititz lack of accreditdation? All of your info is helping immensely and I hope I’m not being a bother. Thanks.

  40. Chris Carrier
    Posted July 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    I am looking into going to WOSTEP school in Seattle Wa after retirement. I will be most likely too old to be accepted into the Lititz school and probably could easily afford to concentrate fully on the program.
    However, I really have trouble seeing through a loupe of any multiplication. So, what I have done is, I purchased a stereo microscope and built a custom bench and purchased a drafting chair that has a greater range of height and adjustment.
    During your training, was using a loupe or eyeglass attachment loupe mandatory or could you use any form of sight aid?

  41. jeanne
    Posted July 26, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    how much experience did you have with mechanics when you applied? what do they look for in their students?

  42. Josh Bale
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    J. Peter, great Blog! Thanks for taking the time to point people in the right direction with regards to potentially becoming watchmakers. I graduated LWT a few years ago and I’m currently working in Honolulu. I have to say, watchmaking is by far the best Job I have ever had! I love going to work and getting new challenges to explore. Keep up the good work! And as for anyone else that may read my post. My personal opinion is that some of the greatest attributes the instructors look for at the LWT in a potential candidate is how moldable you are. How well you follow instruction, how well you present yourself professionally. (not talking style here.) and whether you have the humility and patience to do everything as the instructor tells you to with 110% effort. If you give it your all and have those qualities the rest will follow. Some watchmakers never touched a tool before getting excepted to watchmaking school and did very well.

  43. Chris Toro
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Hello everyone. I am also very excited at the thought of attending LWT. Is there anyone out there that has gone through the face to face interview recently at LWT? If so, could you please shed some light on any of the questions you asked or any of the tasks you where asked to perform. Thank you, Chris T

  44. Douglas Skinner
    Posted May 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your informative review. Thanks even more for your love and dedication to watchmaking. I share it with you. The subject of age has come up several times and you’ve mentioned that LWT has enrolled a student(s) as as “old” as in their 40’s. Unfortunately, I’m in my 60’s. My grapevine, which includes a couple of Lititz Watch Technicum graduates informs me that the chance would be practically nil that someone of my age would be admitted. Nor do I necessarily fault them for that. If you want to turn out students who likely have 25+ years of career ahead of them, then the math is pretty simple. And even though I’m “old” myself, I hate government interference in the form of anti-discrimination laws even more than the penalty I incur because of my age. The upside for seniors like myself is that their is another school in the Lititz area where they can go; and where I’m going. I won’t mention the name but you can pretty easily find it via a web search. My experience so far is has been pretty similar to what you describe at LWT. To those who are interested and are unable to attend LWT I wish the best and look forward to seeing you!

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Lititz Watch Technicum […]

  2. […] […]

  3. […] as well since many questions have been asked and answered there: The post that started it all Lititz Watch Technicum Articles on LWT I can’t go to school full time, is there any other way to learn the […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *