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Veterans’ Watchmaking Initiative
by Bertram Kalisher

The test kit includes the necessary components and tools to assemble a quartz watch. The American Watch Guild recently announced the Veterans’ Watchmaking Training Initiative. The program was inspired by the success of the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking. At the end of World War Two, the Bulova family set up a watchmaking school on Long Island. The majority of the schools students were veterans who were injured in a way that impaired their mobility, or who were looking for a promising career. Operating for twenty years, the school graduated more than 800 watchmakers.

Today there is an acute shortage of watch technicians and watchmakers in the United States. The American Watch Guild has created an aptitude test to identify and test potential candidates for this exciting field. The test kit consists of the necessary parts (case, dials, movement, battery, and strap) and tools–loupe, tweezers, screwdriver, and instructions–to assemble a quarts watch.

Interested mangers of retail watch service departments should contact their local veterans facility to alert the counselors about this opportunity. The American Watch Guild will provide the kits to participating stores for $15 each, including shipping. If an injured veteran requests, the aptitude test will be provided free of charge.

Michael Bowers of Bowers Watch and Clock Repair, located in Atlanta, Georgia., was contacted by Matt Moore, a veteran who indicated he would like to take the aptitude test. Bowers ordered the test and was kind enough to provide Watch and Jewelry Review with a detailed account of Moore’s performance.



Mr Bertram Kalisher:

Matt More opening the test kit available from the American Watch Guild. On February 3rd of 2009 , I had the privilege of meeting Matt Moore, a veteran and aspiring watch maker. Matt had learned about the American Watch Guild’s program and was willing to come to our store and participate in the official aptitude test. I knew he was serious when we called to notify him the kit had arrived, and he asked if he could come in the same day. We arranged an early afternoon appointment.

After meeting my father, Thomas, the owner of Bowers Watch and Clock Repair, and my brother Tim, in charge of clock repair, Matt and I got down to business. After reading the instructions, Matt laid out the parts and tools in a neat and efficient manner. I was impressed with his attention to detail and in no time at all he the dial oriented and attached to the movement.

Matt More, foreground, hard at work assembling his timepiece. Tom Bowers, the store’s owner, is busy in the background.Matt Quickly progressed to the hour and minute hands. It quickly became apparent that his technique was fine but his lack of experience was showing. We decided to make the move from a tabletop working area to my bench. The combination of a professional bench, a better pair of tweezers, and a bit of assistance and assurance did the trick and Matt soon had the second hand ticking along.

The remaining components proved to be no problem, and forty minutes after Matt started the test, a proud veteran had assembled his first running timepiece. Matt displayed ability, dexterity and skill, and I’m sure with formal training he will find success in the watchmaking field.

The hands of a future watchmaker? Time will only tell, but Michael Bowers thinks Matt Moore has what it takes to work in the field.We ended up chatting for over two hours, including 45 minutes after closing, and I could tell this young man was truly interested in a career in the field. He certainly displayed the passion that should take him far.

I wished him success and sent him home with my business card, an old Elgin pocket watch movement and a few old hand tools. Matt lives more than 90 miles from our store, and I only wished a local watchmaker would have been willing to offer this simple step of encouragement.

It was an honor to participate in the American Watch Guild’s program and to meet Matt Moore. You can rest assured I will accept any further applicants who contact our store. I have included several photos.

Michael Bowers

Both of the above appeared in the April 2009 issue of Watch & Jewelry Review.

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