Patek Philippe has opened a free two-year watchmaker training programme in New York and headhunted applicants for the first course.
The Patek Philippe Horology Programme New York was not publicised and Bloomberg has reported that 300 people with an interest in technical careers were sourced by a headhunter and invited to apply for the course.
The top 80 applicants were invited to the Swiss brand’s New York workshop for a series of presentations from management and the company’s technical departments with the list whittled down to a final six, based on their reactions. Only one cohort will run at any one time with the next intake scheduled for 2017.
The course, operated by Patek watchmaker of 27 years Laurent Junod, is only the second to be offered by the renowned brand outside of its Geneva HQ, the first having opened in Singapore in 2013. Students pay no tuition fees and receive a stipend to assist with rent and food. Successful graduates of the scheme are also guaranteed a job with Patek Philippe.
The course focuses on quartz, mechanical and automatic watches as well as basic complications.
Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek Philippe USA, told Bloomberg: "Anyone in this industry understands how difficult it is to find high-level watchmakers. As the interest in mechanical timepieces has grown steadily over the past 20 years, we are determined to be able to provide the best possible service to clients worldwide, now and in the future."
Patek Philippe’s 19 New York-based watchmakers see around 10,000 watches pass through the workshop for service or repair – with more technically demanding tasks requiring watches to be sent back to Switzerland for attention.
In the UK Patek Philippe was one of eight founding members, among them brands and retailers, behind the British School of Watchmaking in Manchester when it launched in 2006. The school takes on eight students, using the two-year WOSTEP 3200 course, each year. Students at the BSOW are usually sponsored to offset its tuition fees.