Laurent Junod, who has been with Patek Philippe for over 30 years and now heads the school for training watchmakers, gave a tour of the school to GQ. It is important to understand why Patek Philippe is running a watchmaking school (one of only 9 remaining in the U.S.) while charging no fees from the students. Demand for luxury watches has been rising, but skilled watchmakers who can repair these expensive watches are on a decline. Patek Philippe understands that customers would be unwilling to buy a new expensive watch if they cannot get it repaired.
Hence, Patek Philippe is nurturing just 6 talented individuals, of the 380 that applied, to become a watchmaker. On the day of the visit, the students were fixing a little ladies watch each of which were intentionally broken by Junod. The students would go through a list of possible defects until they found out the problem, and then make necessary fixes. Also, one of the most noticeable things while entering their workshop was that everything was of a minuscule size; screwdrivers so delicate that they’d bend at the slightest of pressure. Before the students can learn to repair the watches, they spend several months learning to make their own tools. Because to repair a watch, you need the right tools which are crafted by the watchmakers, themselves. Students have to learn patience to be a watchmaker and the teachers at this school are teaching them just that. It might be painstaking, frustrating work to spend a whole day polishing a tool or get the curved on a hammer just right but as one of the students said, “I truly believe, and I think everyone here shares the same sentiment, that anything worth doing is worth doing right and that’s really what Patek is about,”