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Rolex Wants to Send You to Watchmaking School for Free

You probably already own a Rolex, but now you can learn to repair one, too.

The new Rolex Watchmaking Training Center, which opened in Dallas, Texas last year to foster the next generation of Crown-certified watchmakers, just announced its first educational program.

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Led by nine administrators and instructors with decades of industry experience, the inaugural 18-month tuition-free course combines robust technical training with a comprehensive conceptual framework to give students a holistic understanding of watchmaking. It includes also plenty of hands-on work, with a full six months dedicated to the servicing of Rolex timepieces. The Swiss watchmaker says the work will prepare students for “successful and rewarding careers far beyond their time at the RWTC itself.”

Rolex Watchmaking
The tuition-free course includes robust technical training.

The first course will take place this September, then others will begin annually in March and September. All courses will culminate with a final exam at the Rolex headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, with graduating students eligible for jobs in Rolex’s service network across North America.

It appears the country needs such workers, too. Watchmakers were plentiful for many generations, but the influx of quartz timepieces in the 1970s saw the global talent pool plummet. The number of watchmaking schools in the U.S. alone dropped by more than 75 percent over just a few decades, according to Rolex. As mechanical watches grew in popularity throughout the ‘90s, the shortage of skilled watchmakers became frighteningly apparent. (Workers needed to regularly service the mechanical wrist candy to keep it functioning properly.) In response, Rolex established the Lititz Watch Technicum in Pennsylvania in 2001 to counter the dwindling numbers. The Crown says the new Dallas facility will help to create “a stable and sustainable future for watchmaking in the United States.”

Rolex Watchmaking
Six months of the course will dedicated to the servicing of Rolex timepieces.

Rolex isn’t the only horological heavyweight focused on education, of course. In 2013, Patek Philippe established its first independent regional training institute in Shanghai, then opened outposts in New York, Geneva, and Singapore soon after. The centers offer a comprehensive two-year, four-stage apprenticeship program for folks without any previous watchmaking experience. IWC, Vacheron Constantin, and Jaeger-LeCoultre also run apprenticeship programs, but the training is carried out at the respective Maisons in Switzerland. The best part about Rolex’s new course is that it takes place in the Lone Star State. That means you can polish off some BBQ before you polish a balance wheel.

Applications for the first course at the Rolex Watchmaking Training Center are now open. Check out the center’s website for more information.

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