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by Jordan Ficklin

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I have taken the time to write about the American Watchmakers Clockmakers Institute’s Watchmaker Certification for the 21st Century but not about the organization itself. I guess it could be because I didn’t know a whole lot myself. Having just returned from their annual convention I feel I know a bit more about the organization.

AWCI is a professional organization dedicated to improving the trades of watchmaking and clockmaking in the United States. They consist of a body of approximately 3000 members and are governed by a board of 9 directors. The organization is currently working on solving the greatest problem watchmakers are facing since the “quartz revolution.” The number of watchmakers is on the decline but high quality and increasingly complicated timepiece sales are on the rise. In the coming years it will be very difficult to get your timepiece serviced if the current trend continues. AWCI is working on increasing the professionalism of the watchmaking trade in order to attract more people into the fold. A well trained professional watchmaker can make a good living and the demand is high.

In an effort to define the vision of AWCI and to clarify the “industry’s” role in the organization Charles Berthiaume of Rolex, USA spoke at the convention. Here are some thoughts I jotted down from his talk. As watchmakers we should “help us help ourselves” by speaking positively of each other. Communication is key amongst professionals. The manufacturers compete for sales but not for service. Once the product is in the consumers hand each brand wishes only to service their own product at the most. In reality they would like to not have to service the product but until the numbers of quality watchmakers can fill the demand it is a service they will continue to offer their customers. As far as watchmaking students are concerned he encouraged them not to “go for the money” on their first job. He encouraged them to seek out a situation which will best help them further their learning. It was a well delivered speech and one thing is for certain. Rolex is doing more than any other entity to further the profession of watchmaking in the United States. Thank you, Rolex.

AWCI is an organization for professionals. Benefits to belonging to the organization include technical articles in their monthly publication “Horological Times,” access to e-groups to discuss with other professionals, access to a community of knowledgeable individuals, training opportunities, access to the AWCI Library, and much much more. The annual convention is probably the greatest source of watchmaking knowledge available to a young watchmaker today. I encourage all young watchmakers to attend next years meeting.

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