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Here's a little tidbit about what's left of the US Watchmaking Schools. Some are closing down. Why? Maybe the Swiss have invaded and have done as much as possible to discourage people from entering the profession. I'm taking an unpopular stand here, but I think it's worth examining.

I found this write-up on Wikipedia:

The Lititz Watch Technicum is a watchmaking school located in Lititz, Pennsylvania. The school, founded by Rolex in 2001, was created to help make up for the deficiency of skilled watchmakers in the US.
The Technicum offers a two-year, 3000+ hour SAWTA (Swiss American Watchmaker's Training Alliance) curriculum. Tuition is free for the 14 students accepted each year. The students are expected to pay for their tools which, according to the school, currently cost around $6000. The program focuses on micromechanics and watch service with a strong emphasis on chronographs.

What's the Swiss American Watchmaker's Training Alliance? Something I have navigated away from. It's owned by Rolex and if you don't get their AWCI CW21 Certification, you can't buy parts for Rolex watches.

You also have the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program. That's essentially two competing organizations WOSTEP and SAWTA.

In my opinion, this is an issue for the folks that regulate Restraint of Trade aka the Justice Department.

I can't buy parts for Rolex watches unless I go through their 2000 hour course and pay for $6000 worth of tools.

Here's something that's hard to digest: I hear that hundreds of applicants have to go through interviews and if the powers-that-be don't say yes, the interviewee is discourage from entering the trade - as in "you haven't got what it takes."

One of the better and oldest schools, the NAWCC School of Horology is gone. (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc.) is essentially gone since they have stopped taking applications. This is a significant blow to the industry.

Next, we also lost the school in Minnesota, a WOSTEP school. I found a forum post that gives an opinion as to why:

The Saint Paul College WOSTEP has closed. The instructors there were under pressure by ROLEX to change to SAWTA. The instructors decided to keep WOSTEP and ROLEX pulled there funding of the program. The loss of funding ($200,000 a year) lead the college to close the program. WOSTEP was at one time taught at Lititz and Seattle but Rolex was able to pressure both into switching.

Who is Left?

Here's the list:

Bishop State Community College
Southwest Campus
925 Dauphin Island Pkwy.
Mobile, AL 36605

Gem City College
School of Horology
7th and State Street
Quincy, IL 62301

Lititz Watch Technicum
1 Wynfield Drive
Lititz, PA 17543


N.G. Hayek Watchmaking School
5301 Blue Lagoon Drive, Suite 610
Miami, FL 33126

North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking
15100 Trinity Blvd. #300
Fort Worth, TX 76155

North Seattle Community College
Horology Department
9600 College Way North
Seattle, WA 98103

OSU Institute of Technology
Watchmaking & Microtechnology
1801 E. 4th Street DWRTC #235
Okmulgee, OK 74447


Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology
Horology Department
2400 Clarksville Street
Paris, TX 75460


Which one isn't a 2000 hour Swiss-American school?

The last on the list. That's it. With so much business out there, you would think that the rejects from the Swiss schools would jump at the chance to enter The Texas Institute of Jewelry and Horology in an inexpensive place to live like Paris, Texas. A student can finish in 14 months. The cost? $1300 for tools and about $1500 for each of the four semesters. What do you learn? Watchmaking.
 

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Interesting info, I was curious recently about where one would go to learn watch making but I didn't end up researching it. As someone who is already biased against Rolex for various reasons, this only adds to my issues with that company.
 

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I'm fairly new to mechanical watches, but it seems like the more I read about Rolex, the less I want to own one of their watches. (as if I could afford to drop that much on a watch to begin with, but that's beside the point!) it seems like they are the bully on the playground that everyone's afraid of, and that maybe they like it that way. Plus, most of their watches look exactly like they did 50 years ago, and they still cost as
much as they do. I think one forum poster put it perfectly when he summed up his thoughts on Rolex: "It's a great $800 watch that people spend $3000 on."


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