Rolex Watchmaking Training Center
Why Become A Watchmaker?
Inside Look

Why Become A Watchmaker?

It's a relatively simple question: Why become a watchmaker? In today’s fast-paced, digitally-focused world, choosing to spend one’s career quietly adjusting gears and fitting pinions by hand seems like an almost rebellious idea. But it wasn’t always that way.

Rolex Watchmaking Training

For generations, watchmaking was a prestigious profession and there were nearly 50 watchmaking schools scattered across the United States alone. But, in the wake of the introduction of the quartz-powered wristwatch in the 1970s and ‘80s, the demand for watchmakers dropped and schools started closing their doors. By the turn of the century, there were fewer than 10 watchmaking schools left on American shores and new watchmakers entering the workforce were measured by the handful not the hundreds.

Rolex Watchmaking Training

Luckily, the explosion in popularity of mechanical watches in the 1990s meant more watchmakers were needed – and quickly. To address this need, Rolex established the Lititz Watch Technicum in Pennsylvania in 2001, and today the Rolex Watchmaking Training Center continues the mission of preparing tomorrow’s watchmakers for long and successful careers in this nearly forgotten and vitally important craft.

"I had this moment of realization when it washed over me and I thought ‘Wow, I really enjoy this. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.' "Tim Rabe

"I went to watchmaking school as a goldsmith, hoping that I would like watchmaking just as much,” says Tim Rabe, a technical instructor in the program. “I had some butterflies in my stomach, but I had this moment of realization when it washed over me and I thought ‘Wow, I really enjoy this. This is what I'm supposed to be doing.'"

Rolex Watchmaking Training

This kind of epiphany can be a powerful thing, and one of the great joys of watchmaking is that it provides endless opportunities for this kind of discovery. There are endless challenges, endless opportunities, and endless new things to learn. It is the perfect fusion between intellectual, theory-driven work and very practical work with one’s hands. The education provided at the Rolex Watchmaking Training Center is the start of a journey that can continue for a lifetime. As a career, watchmaking is one where, to be successful, you never stop learning and always have room to grow.

And, similarly, there are opportunities to practice the craft in countless ways and in countless places. Graduating from the RWTC, students are placed in a job working within the Rolex service network – and, counter to what one might expect, these jobs exist in dozens of cities across North America and don’t require relocation to Switzerland. While that might be the watch industry’s global home, watchmaking itself can be practiced anywhere and the need for watchmakers is on the rise worldwide.

Rolex Watchmaking Training

"It's an excellent career that provides lots of opportunity. At first things don't seem possible, but then you decide to go down the rabbit hole and that's when it gets really exciting.' "Tim Rabe

"Watchmaking might sound a little bit on the niche side, but it doesn’t have to be” says technical instructor Tyler Poso. "It's an excellent career that provides lots of opportunity. At first things don't seem possible, but then you decide to go down the rabbit hole and that’s when it gets really exciting."

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