Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School

Industry News: The Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School In Miami Is Now Open

This elite institution for creating watchmakers opens up a world of opportunity for the next generation of timekeepers.

By Rhonda Riche

The world needs more watchmakers! That is why we want to let you know that the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School in Miami is now accepting applicants for September.

Haute horology is far from being a dying art, but if watchmaking is to become a more appealing pursuit, the industry needs more highly trained and engaged watchmakers. Let’s learn more about the curriculum, the motivation and the history of this unique place of higher horological learning.

World Class 

Founded by Nicolas Hayek (former Chairman of Swatch Group), the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School educates the next generation of watchmakers in Shanghai, Glashütte, Pforzheim, and now, Miami. The purpose of the schools is to find new talent from outside of the usual Swiss circles and make education accessible. the goal is to consistently nurture those entering the field who seek to expand their knowledge and skills.

However, the Miami location is unique because Hayek’s motivation for establishing this campus is not entirely academic. By bringing the school to Miami, the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School becomes one of only five training facilities in the United States to partner with the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP), internationally recognized as the industry’s leading training and certification program.

Founded in 1966 in Neuchâtel, WOSTEP’s goal is to train watchmakers who were educated outside of Switzerland in after-sales services methods for Swiss watches. This program covers all the skills needed to train watch repairers, brand trainers, school instructors, retail and customer service staff, polishers, and specializations.

To further promote accessibility and diversity and attract the best talent, the school is subsidized by the brands – students are only responsible for the cost of their tools, meals, and accommodation. And while the goal is to nurture the next generation of watchmakers, the selection process is still demanding – there are many more applicants than there are spots available.

Everyone’s A Winner

As watch enthusiasts, we appreciate not only the work that goes into the building of a new timepiece but also the effort that goes into maintaining our precious watches. That is why we are behind the mission of the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking Schools.

Applicants to the schools go through a challenging five-step admission process. Class sizes are kept small intentionally to ensure that each student receives extensive individualized tuition from the master watchmakers. But the hard work is worth it. After completing the WOSTEP certification (in either a two or three-year course), the students can find work almost anywhere in the world.

Not every student sets out to become the next F.P.Journe. But all have a fire in the belly for timepieces. According to Reto Kohli, Head of Apprentices for Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking Schools: “Particularly in Switzerland and China, applications are more than ten times higher than the number of open training positions. The watchmaker is still the key person in the production, but also in the maintenance of our watches – this promises a solid professional career to the young professionals.”

Kohli explained that past graduates work mainly in the Swatch Group’s customer service centers around the globe. “They take on demanding work in the maintenance and repair of our various brand watches. However, after further training, challenging positions in the maintenance of vintage watches or management are also open to them.”

Miami Heat

The first Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School opened in Shanghai in 1999, but the school quickly realized that the Americas also needed more elite training centers.

“Thanks to the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking Schools’ network,” added Kohli, “more than 1000 watchmakers have joined the global talent pool. This achievement is the result of Swatch Group’s substantial investments at different levels, and it is fair to say that the entire industry – in Switzerland and beyond – has benefited from the graduates’ skills. In other words, graduates are sought-after professionals. However, our goal is to integrate all freshly graduated watchmakers into our structures in each case.”

Miami has become a hub of horological excitement because of its proximity to key North and South American markets, so the location provides pupils with infinite resources for extracurricular experiences.

The Swatch Group is the parent to such brands as Breguet, Blancpain, Glashütte Original, Jaquet Droz, Omega, Longines, Rado, Tissot, Certina, Mido, and Hamilton. Many of these maisons are available in high-end or stand-alone boutiques in Miami, which will also give students a better understanding of markets and collectors, in addition to all their new horological prowess.

If you are looking to further your watchmaking skills, the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School is now taking applications.

For more information, visit the school’s website.

(Images © Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School)

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