British School of Watchmaking - Manchester

Published on Wednesday 6th of October 2021

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Horology is the study of the measurement of time and this can be learnt at the British School of Watchmaking in Sale, Manchester.
Nick Towndrow and Gordon Bryan set up the school, in 2004, after seeing there was a shortage of watchmakers in the UK to service the increasing number of complex mechanical watches out there.

In September 2006 the Manchester school received their first students on the WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program) 3000-hour course. The school went from strength to strength and had to expand the number of students they could take on the course, with every graduate gaining employment and the increasing demand for UK watchmakers. Each year the number of students increased and by 2011 the Manchester school took up to eight students at a time enrolling on the course.

The school celebrated 10 years of supplying graduates to the UK watch industry, in 2016, and held a special ceremony in September of the same year with current and past graduates invited along. The British School of Watchmaking added a new 1800-hour course in 2018, this being the first school in Europe to introduce this WOSTEP recognized course.

The school is an independent company and has no government funding, so it is financed by the course fees, by its founders and its partners. It is supported by a number of UK and international companies including Boodles, Breitling, Rolex, Patek Philippe, Bremont, Roger W Smith and the Swatch Group.

Both the courses are full time over 40 hours per week Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm with the 3000-hour over two years and the 1800-hour over one year. The course also begins in January of each year and is the equivalent of the Swiss CFC three-year watch repair educational course. Total cost for the watchmaking course is £11,200 per year. This fee includes a full watch tool kit, and the students will gain the skills to service or repair quartz, mechanical, automatic and basic chronograph watches. They will also should be competent in movement exchanges, quality control and finding faulty components to movements with readily available replacement parts.
2020 was a different year for many and the Manchester school were no different, with the students working from home and via Zoom calls, yet the students still achieved a 95% success rate on their watch servicing work.

Author: M Flanders

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