Tourneau’s Watchmaker Program Helps At-Risk Students

The brand graduated seven more students this morning

Tourneau is grooming a new generation of watchmakers. The company hosted a graduation ceremony this morning at its service center in Long Island City, N.Y., for its latest group of high school students who completed a course in one of the most time-honored crafts in existence: watchmaking.

The luxury watchmaker hosts a twice-yearly “Art of Watchmaking” program for at-risk New York teens; it provides a small group with the opportunity to learn about the craft from the pros. Created by Tourneau’s technical director Terry Irby in March 2013, the program is designed to pique students’ interest in a watchmaking career.

A student at work in Tourneau’s watchmaking program


The students, from Manhattan Comprehensive Day and Night High School, are selected by school counselors, then interviewed by Irby to gauge their natural mechanical savvy and interest. If they pass a short series of simple tests, or show interest in the field of watchmaking, they’re accepted into the program. For two months, students learn various skills related to the watchmaking industry, including how to make simple repairs to watches and antique clocks.

“We like to lay out exactly what they’ll be facing,” says Irby. The path to becoming a full-fledged watchmaker is a long one, as it can take up to four years of education. Tourneau’s program is designed to start such an education. The company even hires some students from the program as interns in their shops. And two graduates of the class have been hired as technicians at the company.

“We like to identify people who have a passion, talent, and desire,” says Irby. “The people we chose have been excellent, and they found an interest they didn’t know they had before.” This, Irby says, is the most rewarding part of the program—for both the students and the company itself.

Irby adds that the company will continue the program in the future and might even be looking to expand it to include more students each session.

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JCK Senior Editor

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