Watch Club and the HSNY Host Collectors in London
Where would Watch Club be were it not for the watchmakers behind the scenes who ensure that the watches are in perfect order? Where would the whole watch industry be without them?
Collectors know that watchmakers do something careful and focused with their watches, but few ever get the chance to experience what it's like from the craftsman's side of the table.
Watch Club decided to team up in London with the UK's leading watchmaker training body the BHI, and with the HSNY from New York, to host a weekend of watchmaker experiences for collectors.
The Horological Society of New York is well known for its Travelling Education Programme, giving hands-on horology experiences at venues around the USA and Asia. This was the first time they travelled to Europe. They have honed the process to a fine art; eight sets of watchmaker's precision tool kits along with carbon-fibre bench tops all fit together into a single suitcase!
Normally they hold these events at jewellers' shops or university auditoriums; Watch Club arranged for the event to be at The Clockworks, a private museum and event space in London that houses one of the world's pre-eminent collections of electric precsion horology.
The purpose of these events is not to teach people watchmaking, but to give collectors an insight over an intensive four hours of what goes on inside their watches. First, they get some background information about how the watch works; then it's straight into dismantling a modern Swiss manual-wind movement.
Step by step, each piece is taken apart, under the watchful care of the instructors. Then, after a coffee break, it's all put back together again, one piece at a time. The instructors show exactly how to hold the tools, how to place the parts, and how to stop them flying away across the room...
Well, most pieces didn't fly away, but in two days we only lost two parts, which we thought was very good going!
The event was hugely popular, with collectors paying several hundred pounds to attend, and travelling from continental Europe, Ireland and all over the UK. The programme is not-for profit and all proceeds go back into horology education.
One of Watch Club's collectors who enjoyed the event said "I was surprised at just how challenging it was. I would never have thought to try my hand at working on a watch, and I have a new respect for my watches and for watchmakers now!"
How else was Watch Club involved? The photo and video media was all done by our photography team, the same experienced photographers that serve up the superb photos on watchclub.com. Also, one of the watchmaker trainers was Watch Club's very own Justin Koullapis, who is himself a qualified watchmaker.
The event was a great way for collectors to meet and socialise, and enjoy a healthy amount of wristwatch admiration.
The other co-sponsor of the event was the British Horological Institute (BHI), the UK organisation that provides watchmaker accreditation and training. Many of the world's greatest watchmakers have BHI education, including George Daniels, Stephen Forsey and Roger Smith. The BHI, at over 160 years, is one of the world's oldest horology training bodies, and also publishes the peer-reviewed Horological Journal.
At Watch Club we're very aware of how watchmakers underpin everything about our favourite subject, and we're delighted to be able to share some of their skills with our fellow collectors. Let us know if you'd be interested in joining if we host one of these events again.