Rolex USA donates $1 million to Minnesota watchmaker school

Rolex USA has donated $1 million to the watchmaker school of Saint Paul College, Saint Paul, Minn. The funds, which represent the school’s largest-ever contribution, will be allocated over five years, starting this year. The watchmaking program is one of the oldest in the country, and is based on the two-year Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP) course.

The grant is “one of the largest single private donations to an individual college program in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities,” said a school statement. Rolex USA officially announced the grant at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 22.

“Rolex is proud to be a sponsor of this outstanding education program at Saint Paul College,” said Charles Berthiaume, senior vice president of Technical Operations for Rolex. “The benefits of this grant will reach well beyond the five-year period. Those who complete the watchmaking program have tremendous potential for advancement in the industry.”

Under its agreement with Rolex USA, the college will use the money to upgrade the equipment, facilities, curriculum, and services of its watchmaking program, and to hire a second full-time instructor.

Established in 1919, Saint Paul College’s watchmaking program has “an excellent reputation both locally and nationally,” and the grant will “help elevate that reputation to world-class status,” said program instructor Joe Juaire.

In 2000, Rolex donated $1 million to North Seattle Community College, Seattle, Wash., which has another WOSTEP-certified watchmaking program. Rolex’s own Technicum school, at its service center in Lititz, Pa., also uses the WOSTEP program.