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The shortage of skilled workers seems to be a problem for just about every industry, and the luxury watchmaking industry is certainly no exception. It’s a real challenge to find trained watchmakers who can repair and service high-end watches such as those created by Patek Philippe, a company that has been making watches for over 150 years.
To address this shortage, Patek Philippe has decided to create its own two-year watchmaking school in New York. The school will provide hands-on training so that graduates can repair watches on their own. Once they complete the program, they will have the opportunity to work directly for Patek Philippe if they perform well.
Why New York?
The first question that comes to mind is why New York? The simple answer is that there just wasn’t enough trained personnel in the field. Patek Phillipe, like others in the industry, needed to find a better way to create trained watchmakers so they could continue making the watches their customers love.
Over the course of the two-year program, students will gain a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience, which will prepare them to immediately make an impact in the luxury watchmaking industry. They will come out of the program with the ability to repair watches on their own and will have a distinct advantage in the job market, especially if they decide to work for Patek Philippe.
Servicing Luxury Watches
Servicing a luxury watch like a Patek Philippe is no easy task. In fact, some watches can take months to service properly. The sheer cost of some watches, coupled with the fact that they may need to be sent to a special artisan in Geneva for servicing, is enough to make anyone think twice about owning a high-end watch. By having the service right here in New York and trained personnel capable of repairing these watches, it’s a big deal for the industry.
Recruiting for the program was a success, as there were over 400 applications, which was then narrowed down to six candidates. The acceptance rate of just two percent is impressive, but what is even more impressive is the time and effort spent to find the right candidates. Patek Philippe narrowed its list down to 80 individuals and exposed them to what watchmaking entails. This helped to weed out those who did not have the passion for the craft or could not handle the daily requirements.
The labor shortage in the watchmaking industry has been a reoccurring problem for decades. In the 70s, when quartz watches took off, people believed that mechanical watchmaking was dead. As a result, no one was trained in the craft. Now there is a big gap in the ages of those who know how to repair watches, with most of the old watchmakers nearing retirement. Companies like Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Richemont Group, to name just a few, have set up their own schools to train people in watchmaking.
One way that Patek Philippe has distinguished itself from the rest of the luxury watchmaking industry is by making the school free to applicants. Furthermore, students receive a stipend during the two-year program. While the cost of this investment is in the several hundred thousands of dollars, the long-term benefits of having trained personnel directly out of school far outweigh this initial cost.
With the growing awareness and popularity of luxury watches, the number of watches serviced is only going to increase. Last year alone, Patek Philippe created over 50,000 watches for the world, and this number is only going to grow. With a growing base of collectors and enthusiasts, also including tech and financial people getting involved with watches, there is a broadening interest in the industry. Patek Philippe has even seen a rise in the desire for vintage watches.
The Patek Philippe two-year watchmaking program certainly has a lot of promise. By providing hands-on training, the participants of the program will gain a wealth of knowledge and be able to repair watches on their own. Additionally, Patek Philippe is investing in its future by training its own labor directly out of school. With the growing interest in luxury watches, Patek Philippe is proud to be at the forefront of training the next generation of skilled watchmakers.