Swiss watch organizations pledge $1.1 Million to OSU Watchmaking program

A new $1.1 million agreement has been signed by several Swiss luxury watch brands and groups in continued support of the watchmaking program at Oklahoma State University’s Okmulgee campus.

Participating in the Sept. 20 event at OSU-Okmulgee were representatives of Audemars Piguet, Breitling, The Richemont Group, The Swatch Group, and OSU university officials. In addition, Maarten Pieters, director of the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program (WOSTEP), traveled from Switzerland to mark the ongoing partnership between Swiss watchmakers and OSU-Okmulgee’s Watchmaking & Micro-technology program. 

The $1.1 million pact, covering five years, comes at a time when there is concern in the U.S. watch business about the decrease in trained watchmakers.

“I thank the Swiss watch industry and Oklahoma State University for this commitment,” said Pieters. “We’re looking forward to another five years of success.” OSU-Okmulgee has used the WOSTEP curriculum, considered the best in the world, since 1994 and was the first WOSTEP-approved school in the United States to offer it.

“This renewed sponsorship positions OSU-Okmulgee to build on its success,” says OSU-Okmulgee President Robert Klabenes. “Our graduates work for some of the most prestigious watch companies and service centers in the world. These are lucrative careers, and our Swiss watch partners need more technological professionals of the quality that we are producing.”

Anita Gordy-Watkins, OSU-Okmulgee associate vice president who oversees the program, noted well-trained graduates are “vital to the luxury watch industry, because they are key to ensuring the optimum quality and quantity of after-sales service for Swiss-made watches in world markets.” 

The new five-year commitment to OSU-Okmulgee’s watchmaking program will provide added funding to expand instructional and technological capabilities; increase student enrollment and faculty; staff resources; continuing professional development; scholarships; equipment, supplies; marketing, and industry image enhancement.

Students in the OSU-Okmulgee program must pass the 3,000-hour WOSTEP curriculum, recognized worldwide as the leading educational standard in fine watchmaking. It includes studies in micromechanics, mechanical watches, chronographs, electronic watches, external parts, and after-sales service. OSU-Okmulgee students also earn a 95-credit hour Associate in Applied Science degree, which is integrated into OSU’s WOSTEP curriculum.  

WOSTEP represents the Swiss watch industry in setting standards for, and coordinating approved watchmaking programs of, partner schools. There are currently 14 WOSTEP partnership programs worldwide, including five are in North America. The others are in China, France, Japan, Sweden and Germany and the United Kingdom.

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