When we reported on the management changes at the Henri Stern Watch Agency in September, it was unknown where long-time Technical Director and Master Watchmaker Laurent Junod would end up within the company. After an official announcement from Patek-Philippe in early October we now know. Laurent Junod has now earned the title Director of Technical Training at the Patek Philippe Horology Programme New York. This newly established in-house watchmaking school is only the second of its kind outside of Geneva, Switzerland. Patek Philippe opened its first satellite watchmaking school in 2013 in Shanghai, China, at the prestigious Maison Patek Philippe Shanghai.
Patek Philippe, like many other brands, recognized that the amount of repairs being received by their service center was going to drastically increase in the near future due to the favorable sales market over the last 20 years. Their US-based service center currently provides service to around 10,000 timepieces a year, currently split among 19 watchmakers. This number doesn’t include all the repairs that must be sent back to Geneva. Instead of requiring more repairs to be sent back to Switzerland and causing a longer turnaround time, Patek found it was necessary to train new watchmakers in-house to their products and standards. This in turn will free up the veteran watchmakers to handle some of the more complicated repairs that in the past would have made the transatlantic journey.
The US-based school will follow the two-year curriculum already established in the Shanghai school. While the school follows a traditional watchmaking school calendar, the training is completely integrated into the highly revered Patek four-level tiered training system already available to qualifying watchmakers. Levels 1-3 cover all the basic skills required of modern watchmakers as well as all the skills needed to service and restore most of Patek Philippe’s quartz, manual wind, and automatic watches. Level 4 is reserved for the highly complicated timepieces such as repeaters and split-second chronographs. The current curriculum will graduate the watchmakers with a level-2 designation.
The current candidates were found using a headhunter because of the secrecy surrounding the project. Out of the initial pool of 300 applicants, 80 were brought in for a formal interview and technical presentations. Six were chosen for the initial program. Classes will not be run concurrently, so the next group of students will not start until this same time of year in 2017. The tuition for the school is free, and the students are also given a small stipend to help them pay for rent and food in the country’s most expensive city. Once students complete the program, they will be offered a full-time watchmaker position with the company.
Patek Philippe will begin to interview new candidates sometime next year. If you are interested in the program you should contact Patek Philippe USA at 212-218-1240.
Laurent Junod, Master Watchmaker for Patek Phillips for three decades, runs the school.