Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Next Generation

"So how's business Nick?" asked two acquaintances the other day.

"Exciting! I will be training a new apprentice watchmaker as of next week!"

"Oh Nick" - said one, "You’re so na├»ve. Good luck with that... You will spend countless hours with him but most likely your apprentice will leave you in 6 months taking with him your best customers. That is precisely what happened to me".

"... and the only way to protect your business from loss is to NOT to pass onto him any core knowledge of your trade. That's what I do" said the other.

And both of them were absolutely spot on: that’s precisely what happens when a fool trains a fool.

Hacko family watchmakers have been training apprentices since the 1950s. At the last count, my grandpa and my father trained over 200 watchmakers. Four of them, who were trained in our workshops, are now practicing trade here in Australia: two in Melbourne running their own business, one works for TAG in Sydney and one is in Queensland. Our ex-apprentices, now qualified watchmakers, all run businesses in the US and all over Europe. So I guess we know what we are doing.

Tyler signed up yesterday. He is 23 years young, and has a double degree in Mathematics and Computer science. He has an unquestionable thirst for horology.

No one can be certain if Tyler will stick with us for 3 years and complete his watchmaking training. But if he leaves us prematurely, that will be his loss. We run the most reputable business and we are located in the heart of Sydney: inside of the prestigious Culwulla Chambers. From his workbench he will have an unobstructed view of three Rolex dealers, the Cartier building, the Omega store - and every other top Swiss brand you can think of. We deal in high grade watches – and we legally sell more pre-loved timepieces than any other second hand dealer in Sydney. Our client list is impressive and he would have a rare opportunity to work on anything from Seiko to Patek, from simple time-only movements, to complex repeaters: the variety and complexity of watches we handle is simply amazing.

But even more exciting is the fact that we are the only watchmakers who both design and assemble our own mechanical watch, here in this very workshop.

No other business in Australia could offer such opportunity for learning and creativity. Not to mention that we are extremely excited about manufacturing possibilities with a goal to actually one day make watch components in our own workshop.

In addition, Tyler will work with Josh, the fourth generation to-be watchmaker who at the age of 18 is already well versed in business. Josh just passed a bunch of exams at Sydney Uni, within the faculty of Mechanical Engineering. For both of them in the watchmaking trade, only the sky is their limit. I would be greatly disappointed if Tyler doesn’t top the class at TAFE and becomes the apprentice of the year. If he achieves that goal, then this time next year, he and Josh will be on a plane to Switzerland attending the Watchmaking and Precise Engineering Trade Fair – with all costs paid for by me.

I am not looking for cheap labour but rather a young, capable, smart, hard working apprentice who is enthusiastic about being a part of an Australian watchmaking story. And I am absolutely ready to let the next generation take over all of my customers! When that day comes, I will finally have time to do what I always wanted to do: to learn more about horology.

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