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On A Journey To Become A Watchmaker..

by Tony

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My name is Tony and I have officially started my journey to become a professional watchmaker.  I’ve become a contributor to this blog because I was accepted into the Lititz Watch Technicum just like J. Peter.  This will be my first blog ever, and I’m not quite sure how this goes but I’ll try my best.

My main purpose here is to let everyone know what goes on here.  First off, I have no experience in watchmaking or any kind of jewelry for that matter.  I’m sure you know the basics like micromechanics, watch repair, etc. but I’ll be giving more in depth information weekly or daily.  Before I  started, I was surfing the internet trying to find as much info I could get but to be honest, there’s not too much out there.  Yes, the Lititz Watch Technicum was talked about but there were no articles talking about what goes on inside.  This blog was the closest I could get without calling the school everyday! Anyway, I’ll be talking about what I learn and the interesting things that happen in the next 2 years.

I’ve only been there for 3 days and I have learned so much already.  Not necessarily about watches but problem solving using analytical thinking.  Sometimes it seems like you’re doing random work, but the motto all the staff has been using is, “everything has a purpose.”  The first day, we took apart our vices attached to our work bench.  They haven’t been serviced in years and some of them were slowly deteriorating.  We were asked to use them and determine if there were any issues.  We would either say, yes or no, and start to take them apart.  Memorizing where all the parts go, how each part works in relation to eachother, and what needs to be fixed was the purpose of this activity.  At first I thought this was just busy work but soon enough, I realized what it would do.

Watchmaking is all about problem solving.  Customers will bring in their timepieces and say, “fix this.” More often than not, they won’t know what’s wrong and will expect you to rip it apart, diagnose the problem, and fix it.  As in this exercise, we got a first glimpse of what analytical thinking, problem isolation, and repairing will do for us in this profession.

This was a little bit of what happened so far but I already have a project due and I should get on it.  Stay tuned!

15 Comments

  1. Cameron
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like you have made a good decision and with any luck I will be in your shoes next year. I look forward to your updates.

  2. Posted September 10, 2008 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Welcome! This is an interesting career path indeed. I wish you the best of success.

  3. Tony
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Cameron,

    Thanks for the luck and I wish you just the same. Let me know when you get an interview and maybe we’ll get to meet.

    Jon,

    Thanks for the welcome. I’m very much enjoying this and loving every minute of it.

  4. J.Peter
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Tony, Welcome to the blog. I’m glad to have you as a contributor. Keep up the great posts. You are entering a great profession.

  5. Dennis
    Posted September 10, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    Tony, all the very best to you on your chosen profession! I wish I had done the same years ago! I too am thinking about applying to the school, but fear that I might be too old (I’m in my mid to late thirties). After nearly 15 years in the IT industry I could use a change of pace. What would you say is the average age of the students at the school? What is the enrollment process and how many students are accepted each year? Thanks for your help and best of luck! Dennis.

  6. Posted September 11, 2008 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Awesome! I look forward to reading your posts. I too am learning to be a watchmaker, but alas I can only do it in my spare time (no pun intended) at facilities provided by the wonderful Epping Forest Horology Club, here in England. http://www.efhc.org.uk/

    =)

  7. alan
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this great information! I applied at the WTI at NSCC and was accepted. I had hoped to get in this year but time constraints and other ‘grown up’ issues prevented me from doing so. But if all goes well, I should be moving out there and starting class Sept, 2009. I really look forward to reading what you go through your first year there at Lititz. Good luck!

    side note – I will be leaving a career in IT to start this as well, Dennis. I will be 28 at the time I start the course. One of the students there when I applied appeared to be in his 50s.

  8. Justin
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Tony. Your vice exercise sounds like a scene from the Karate Kid. Enjoy, and keep us up to date.

  9. Tony
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all the wishes!

    Dennis,

    The average age in my class is about 30-32 years old. I’m in the lower spectrum of the group as I’m 22 years old.

    The enrollment process can take some time and may take a few months or more. Your application gets sent in first, then you have a phone interview, after that is your school visitation. You would come in, tour the school, meet the faculty, and take some tests. This will measure your mechanical aptitude, patience, and basic problem solving. After that is the wait. :]

    There are only 12 slots available for students. They narrow that down from about 100 applicants so make sure you make a good impression and most importantly, a strong desire and dedication for this.

  10. Reece
    Posted September 24, 2008 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Tony, or anyone in watchmaking school for that matter, did you have any prior watchmaking experience before applying to Watchmaking school? And did you apply to any other schools? I want to get into this, but am curious if someone without watchmaking experience has a chance of getting accepted. Thanks-Reece.

  11. J.Peter
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Reece,

    I am a graduate of LWT, where Tony is studying and I would say a lack of experience is really a good thing when going to watchmaking school. They want people who are professional and have a strong interest in watches. Experience is definitely not a requirement. You might check out my post about LWT.

  12. Tony
    Posted September 25, 2008 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    J.Peter is correct. They want people that have a strong interest in watchmaking. People with backgrounds in watchmaking tend to come in and think they know how to do this or that. I believe LWT likes to teach fresh new minds to instill their practices and professionalism.
    Of course having some experience is nice but the desire, interest, and hard work is more of what they’re looking for.

  13. Aaron Weikart
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting reading this blog. I am very passionate and knowledgeable about fine time-pieces, and in the past few years, my interest in being a professional watchmaker has amplified considerably. I am thinking about applying for the LWT. I am a junior in high-school, graduating in 2010. In one of your comments, you say your the youngest at 22. Do you need any prior experience, or can you apply fresh out of high-school? My interest and passion for this profession is getting stronger and stronger, and I feel as if my steady-hand, hard-working nature, determination, and my ability to fix anything can truly be all put to good use in the profession of watchmaking. Thank you for your blog, it will be great to find out exactly what I am in for. Thanks for reading my long boring comment if you get to this point, I truly am curious.

  14. J.Peter
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    There were some students right out of high school in my LWT class. Experience is not as important as maturity and professionalism. It is hard work and a certain level of maturity is necessary. If you have the drive and the desire, I would go for it.

  15. Aaron Weikart
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your response! Being professional and mature has never been an issue with me, nor has doing what I’m told. You could even say its ruined my life, it is not often you see a 16 year old with a passion for fine time-pieces. I look forward in further reading tony’s updates, and I thank you for all your very informative posts, Mr. Peter.

    Thank you again!
    -Aaron

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