CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 04. June 2019 BY Elisabeth Gläser

Manufactory visit at Glashütte Original

A visit to a manufactory is an important component of training our next generation of watchmakers. Every year, we visit one of the large watch manufacturers in the city for brand training. This lets us intensify and expand our knowledge about the various brands of watches.
This year, we had the chance to gain fascinating insights into the brand world of Glashütte Original. Glashütte Original was founded after the German reunification out of the East German VEB (publicly-owned business) Glashütte Uhrenbetriebe, so it is the official successor of all watch companies existing before 1990.

A member of the marketing department welcomed us in the company’s impressive atrium and gave us a tour through the manufacturing plant. In the past, the atrium was often used as a venue for concerts and lectures, evidence of the fact that Glashütte Original supports music and film. For example, they are a partner of the Dresden Music Festival and the Berlinale Film festival, and donate a prize for both events every year. After our greeting, we started out on the carefully designed education tour through the facility and were given insights into the manufacturing process of a Glashütte Original watch, from raw material to mounting of the movement and ultimately the finished watch.

We were particularly impressed by the high level of precision and traditional craftsmanship that goes into the timepieces. Here we experienced first-hand what the term manufactory really means. Glashütte Original achieves a very high added value right here in Glashütte and produces wheels, plates and even the tiniest screws on site. A wide range of milling machines, lathes and eroding machines is at the watchmakers’ disposal. For the most part, the movement parts are finished traditionally by hand. The movements bear the typical Glashütte features like hand-engraved balance cock, blued screws and swan neck fine adjustment. The individual departments, such as development, milling, assembly, etc. work in close coordination with one another to guarantee the best possible product. This is watchmaking in action. The visit definitely turned us into big fans of Glashütte Original. 
The apprentices are looking forward to sharing their exciting new insights with our customers during their next work assignments at one of our showrooms. Many thanks to the colleagues at Glashütte Original for making the visit possible.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 30. April 2019 BY Lisa Holstein

“Watchmaker? – That’s quite unusual!”

“Watchmaker? – That’s quite unusual!” – One of the comments I hear regularly when I talk about my chosen profession. Both in my family and among friends, my career as a watchmaker always provides lots of topics for discussion. The individual stages of my apprenticeship, my winning 1st Place in the national Chamber of Trade competition or my career start at the Rolex Boutique Berlin – topics I have already shared in my blog – are always met with keen interest.

But why did you choose to become a watchmaker?

Many customers compare watchmakers to doctors, and not only because we wear white lab coats. “Open watch surgery” is part of our daily business. The comparison perfectly illustrates the reason why I am so excited about my profession. Making a customer happy by bringing grandma’s heirloom, a wedding gift or reward for successful business back to life and making it shine again is what motivates me every day. Moreover, repairing a watch takes nearly as much concentration and manual dexterity as operating on a person. This combination of technology, craftsmanship and close customer contact is why watchmaking is my dream profession.

How is Wempe as an employer different from other watch manufacturers?

After an apprenticeship at Wempe, you have the choice of a career in the service/workshop area or in production. Even during my apprenticeship, I had the chance to explore both tracks during internships in different stores and departments to find out what suits me best. This very personal and individual support motivated me and spurred me to set ambitious goals for myself, such as winning the national competition. If you are interested, here you can read my report on taking part in the national completion:

How do others feel about my choice of a career in watchmaking?

“Extraordinary”, “interesting”, “rare” or “impressive” are common reactions to my chosen profession. In particular, working in a technical/craftsman’s profession as a woman is often considered usual. I often end up being the centre of attention at parties or family gatherings. Because even though my profession is rare, virtually everyone owns one or several watches or clocks, so everyone can relate.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 25. January 2019 BY Elisabeth Gläser

The best school for watchmakers – the trainee year at Wempe

Incredible how time flies. Julian’s trainee year is nearly over already. He is looking back on an exciting and eventful time.

After completing his watchmaker’s apprenticeship with excellent results, Julian began an individually tailored trainee programme with Wempe. During this trainee year, he has worked through different stations to further improve his watch servicing skills and ultimately start his career as a promising next-generation watchmaker in one of our showrooms.

During the first two months, he supported our Rolex Boutique in Stuttgart. His responsibility was to establish the watch service there, meaning to set up our IT system for processing repair orders, training the local colleagues and solving any related problems. He also used the time to expand his knowledge of Rolex watches and actively supported his colleagues in sales. It was an exciting time for him, as he had a chance to experience the process of establishing a watch service department, which gave him a brand-new perspective. Moreover, Julian was able gather valuable experience in customer communication.

After the Rolex Boutique, he moved on to the Glashütte workshop. Here he focused on repairing watches made by Tag Heuer, Breitling, Glashütte Original, Omega, Panerai, Wempe Zeitmeister and Chronometerwerke, as well as Chopard. Learning how to do the repairs, which will be his responsibility later at the store, was particularly important. In addition, Julian gained insights into our administrative processes and our parts stocks. Here Julian excelled with his high level of precision and quality work.

The highlight of his first six months was his assignment to our largest showroom – Maximilianstraße in Munich. Here, no fewer than five watchmakers and master watchmakers advise our customers on the best possible repair of their watches. Julian was deeply impressed with the great variety of brands, which no other store can match, and the extraordinarily high number of watchmaking masterpieces customers can be shown here. These include a wide array of tourbillon, perpetual calendars or even minute repeaters. He was also inspired by the professionalism of the watch service team. He knew he was learning from the best in the craft.

But there is more excitement ahead for Julian. In the coming months, he will support our team in London with his excellent service skills. Of course we will keep you up to date on his experiences and adventures during that time.

For me as an instructor, it is always exciting to see how Julian and our other former apprentices develop their personal and professional competences after their apprenticeships.

Yours, Elisabeth Gläser

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 10. October 2018 BY Luise Rueffer

How I came to Wempe

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, they say. My sister was already working at a jeweller and told me about her tasks and the most beautiful products. I was completely mesmerised.
To me, watches have always been more than just an adornment, but I did not fully understand their true value until I visited the Wempe store on Maximilianstraße in Munich. The master watchmaker there explained the particulars of the movements and what craftsmanship and finesse goes into each and every watch. I knew then that I wanted to learn and understand this craft. This is how I came to watchmaking and how my enthusiasm for the craft was ignited.

During my apprenticeship in the Wempe training workshop in Glashütte, I was introduced to the incredible variety of different watches and their many extraordinary functions. I learned how to work with premium watches and was taught step by step how to repair a watch, regulate it and manufacture new parts for the movements.

After my apprenticeship, I deliberately chose the Wempe service workshop in Hamburg (Europe’s largest independent watch repair workshop), so that I could continue working with watches. Of course this is possible at the showrooms as well, but at the service workshop I can work on a watch from start to finish, take it apart, find the fault, reassemble it, regulate it and close it up again. It is an incredible feeling for me to turn over a finished watch and know that I can make a customer happy.

Another advantage of the workshop is its location in the most beautiful city in Germany, so I was able to move from the Elbe River in Dresden to the Elbe in Hamburg.
Starting work at the workshop was very pleasant. My colleagues there welcomed me with open arms as a “Hamburg newbie” and are always there whenever I need help with anything.

At the moment I am in what you might call a fourth year of apprenticeship. That means I am given plenty of time to become familiar with the different facets of work. Here in our Hamburg workshop, the Rolex brand is the “starter brand”. That alone is extraordinary, because right away you are allowed to work on one of the world’s top brands.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 03. June 2018 BY Elisabeth Gläser

Watchmaker’s apprenticeship completed – what’s next?

It’s incredible how fast three years can fly by. I still remember the day when I first greeted Chris, Alina and Karl in our training centre for watchmakers on the first day of their apprenticeships. All three were excited and full of expectations about what was to come. Now, three instructive years have gone by and I have to say goodbye to our 3rd-year apprentices. These were three wonderful years marked by the high motivation of our apprentices, a lot of new knowledge to be learned and a great team spirit.

The high point of every apprenticeship is the journeyman’s exam. For a whole week, the apprentices must prove their skills by repairing a quartz and mechanical watch, and manufacturing components. The test is rounded out with an oral exam and a written theoretical exam. All three apprentices passed their tests with flying colours and above-average results. For example, the overall scores were 88 and 91 percent. We are especially proud of the excellent practical scores – Chris’ 95 percent result speaks for itself. Once again, our apprentices are among the best watchmakers in the state of Saxony!

We all celebrated the great results at our annual finals celebration with all apprentice watchmakers. This year, we stormed a trampoline hall and then finished the evening at dinner together.

The dignified conclusion of the apprenticeship was the “liberation” ceremony of our apprentice watchmakers. As part of a festive event at the Dresden Congress Centre, a great venue situated right on the Elbe river, the journeyman’s certificates were handed out and the apprentices were congratulated on their successful exams.

We are very pleased to be able to offer all apprentices a position in our company after their training years. Alina will be repairing top watch brands like Rolex or Patek Philippe in our workshop in Hamburg. Chris is taking on the challenge of becoming a service watchmaker in our Leipzig store, and Karl is taking a position in our service studio in Glashütte.

As their training manager, I would like to thank them for three wonderful years together, filled with mutual trust and very pleasant cooperation, and wish our three journeyman watchmakers all the best for their future.

Yours, Elisabeth


Why become a watchmaker?

What makes watchmaking so fascinating for me is the combination of a very traditional craft with state-of-the-art technologies. Even today, we are using mechanisms that are centuries old, but manufactured with high-precision production systems. Mechanical timepieces still work on the same basic principle as they did hundreds of years ago. At the same time, quartz watches were developed that measure time more precisely than ever before.

Apart from that, the subject matter of time and time measurement is just a fascinating topic – from the first attempts of measuring time with element clocks all the way to high-precision atomic clocks. Moreover, my fascination with this craft has to do with the precise work, love of detail and the technical interactions in mechanical timepieces.

The advantages of a watchmaker’s apprenticeship at Wempe compared to other watch manufacturers are above all the diverse fields of activities and growth opportunities that are available after the apprenticeship.
As a watchmaker at Wempe, you have three basic options:

  1. You can work as a watchmaker in the production of our own two watch lines Wempe Zeitmeister and Wempe Chronometerwerke, which are made in our observatory in Glashütte.
  2. Then there is the option of becoming a service watchmaker in Europe’s largest independent watch workshop, our workshops in Glashütte and Hamburg. This is where we repair the majority of the watches that are brought to our showrooms for servicing. That translates to a high number of different watch brands and thus very varied and multifaceted work.
  3. The job of service watchmaker in the service department of one of our many showrooms around the world.

Another advantage of apprenticing at Wempe is that we trainees are introduced to these departments through internships, so we can find out for ourselves which kind of work suits us best. We can then be prepared for the position we strive to take on after completing our apprenticeship.

We gain this practical experience in supervised internships in the service workshops and production, and in showroom assignments, where we can gather experience with the daily work in watch service at a particular store.

Personal and individual support throughout our apprenticeship provides us with the perfect framework for a successful apprenticeship as a watchmaker.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 16. May 2018 BY Dejana Radovanovic

From mere cooperation to friendship

Did you know that most of us spend nearly half their waking hours at work? That’s why it is all the more wonderful when colleagues become friends!

We apprentices usually start forging friendships during our vocational education at the BZE (Training Centre for Retail). These new relationships are shaped by the many rounds of “getting to know you” activities in class, informative group work, learning together, and through different group activities that promote group dynamics.

During this phase, our initial nervousness already begins to fade and we quickly discover parallels between ourselves and other students and colleagues that we didn’t know about before. Some colleagues have already met before because they work in the same showroom or are apprenticing together; others know one another from the assessment centre. Because of these acquaintances, even the fellow students and colleagues who meet for the first time at the BZE have some common topics for conversation.

That’s how it was for a colleague from Hamburg and me. We were both lucky to meet at the BMZ and be assigned to the same class.

Outside of class, we studied together for our exams at the BZE, exchanged tips, wrote study notes and quizzed one another on the material. During our free time, we often did things with the class, went to the cinema, to the Christmas market in winter, or just explored the city. Even though she lives in Hamburg and I work at the Wempe showroom in Stuttgart, we maintain regular contact and visit one another as often as we can in our free time.

Today I am happy to call her one of my best friends, who is also going through the exciting training time side by side with me, and with whom I can share the great experiences and events.

This is why both the BZE and the company Wempe are very concerned with laying the foundations for communication and cooperation among colleagues during the first hours of the first day of school. That way, colleagues and fellow students form friendships that live on beyond school and work.

Wempe ensures that colleagues connect not only during their studies at the BZE. We apprentices can always look forward to seeing each other again at one of the many training events and seminars, for example manufactory trips, sales trainings or visits to trade fairs.

Thanks so much, Wempe!

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 26. April 2018 BY Elisabeth Gläser

How is excellence created?

How is excellence created? I am certain it is the combination of our talented, committed apprentices, our unique training facility and the supportive environment.

We as a training team are very concerned with individual support for our apprentices. This is why we work in small teams or even in one-on-one coaching sessions. A rigid curriculum that is the same for every apprentice would contradict our philosophy. Because individual support tailored to each person’s unique strengths and weaknesses requires unconventional formats and time. Our goal is to allow every apprentice to develop his or her abilities and skills through targeted coaching and by determining the individual training focus.

Especially during the third year of the apprenticeships, we aim to provide individual support for the time after the training course, depending on the apprentice’s chosen line of work, in order to give the new watchmakers the best possible career start after they have completed their training. After their apprenticeships, apprentices can choose one of three career paths: Service watchmaker in one of our showrooms, watchmaker at our production site, or watchmaker in our watch repair workshop. They become familiar with all three areas during their apprenticeship programmes.

We share our knowledge. For instance in the field of brand trainings: Every trainee is an ambassador for one brand of watches that we carry in our range. We get together in casual meetings regularly to exchange information and news about the watch models and history of the brand. These brand trainings are augmented with talks and visits to the different local manufactories. Thanks to the knowledge acquired in these events, our trainees find it much easier to work with watches made by different manufacturers.

We communicate openly and directly. Regular feedback is very important to us. It is the only way the apprentices and we as instructors can all continue to grow. It is how we can get better together. And it is the only way to build a trusting relationship between training management and our apprentices.

We are very proud of the many great achievements of our apprentices. For the fourth time running, apprentices of our company have won the Saxony State Watchmakers’ Competition, and in 2016 they took first place at the national level. For us as a training company and me as training manager, those are distinctions and an affirmation of the work we are doing. But above all it is our incentive to keep improving our training a little bit every day, to keep in tune with the times.

The environment of the city of Glashütte, which is known for training watchmakers, allows us to concentrate fully on the training. The free lodging we provide to our first-year apprentices allows the young people to learn together and make new friends quickly. The shared lodgings also let them build team spirit.

Moreover, Glashütte has what we feel is the best watchmaking school in Germany. Superbly trained specialist instructors using excellent equipment teach our apprentices the key theoretical foundations. Our one-of-a-kind training centre is equipped with the latest technology and all the tools one could need. This too is a key factor for good training.

These many building blocks taken together make for excellent training quality and lay the foundations for the top performances of our watchmaking apprentices. We will continue our quest for improvement, so we can be sure to maintain this kind of quality into the future.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 22. March 2018 BY Lukas Weiss

A watchmaker’s apprentice in the service department of a showroom

An assignment at one of the Wempe stores is always a special time for us watchmaker’s apprentices. From the quaint town of Glashütte, we set out to a large German metropolitan city. In my case, it was a three-week assignment to our store in Nuremberg. It was my first time working in one of our Wempe stores. Every store has its very own charm. Nuremberg, I was told before I left, is a rather small store with a very familial and cordial team.

Before my start in Nuremberg, the instructor in our training centre prepared me for a number of responsibilities. She introduced me to the service department’s computer system, we studied important details about the individual watch brands, how to receive repair orders, and practised some typical customer support scenarios. Thanks to this preparation, I was off to a good start with an experienced master watchmaker at my side and was able to competently advise our sophisticated customers on all service questions.

What was my first workday in a new store like? I would call it exciting, fascinating and full of new and positive impressions. On the first day, I familiarised myself with the team and the store, in particular the watch service department. After an introductory talk, we delved right into the practical side. I advised my first customers and made some small repairs. Thanks to the openness of my colleagues, I was integrated into the team quickly and without any problems.

During my three weeks there, I carried out a lot of repairs on a wide range of watches. To name a few: replacing and shortening bracelets, repairing clasps and cases, regulating a variety of mechanical movements, refurbishing bracelets and cases and making partial repairs, such as replacing a watch-glass. Moreover, I had a chance to advise our customers on the repair of their defective watch and send the watch to Hamburg to our central workshop. A new and exciting element for me was to experience and actually participate in the interaction and communication with our watch workshop, the manufacturers and suppliers.
I especially enjoyed the direct and lively customer contact and assisting customers with buying leather straps.
After three exciting weeks and a warm farewell from the store team, I returned to the training centre in Glashütte. My time in Nuremberg definitely affirmed me in my choice of watchmaking service as a fulfilling future career.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 02. February 2018 BY Elisabeth Gläser

Wempe & the State Watchmaker’s Competition

This year, the nationals of the practical performance competition (PLW) of the watchmaking trade takes place in Würzburg. Before that, the winners of the state competition were honoured by the Dresden Chamber of Trade. In total, our apprentice watchmakers took first through third place in Saxony.

We had been invited thanks to the excellent performance of Hanna Steffen. Another of our fully trained apprentice watchmakers who would also have taken the state title was unfortunately not permitted to participate in the PLW (Praktischer Leistungswettbewerb der Handwerksjugend or Profis leisten was) because of his age. I want to share with you the pictures and the certificate we received as the training company.

This is why Hanna represented us and the state of Saxony at the federal competition. She took fifth place. Unfortunately, we were not able to place among the top three apprentices this year. That’s a shame, but nevertheless, it is still a success that for four years in a row, the winner of the Saxony state competition has been one of our apprentices. It is one more affirmation for us to keep up the good work and a worthy conclusion to our efforts and commitment during this past year.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 20. November 2017 BY Dejana Radovanovic

The Junghans Academy – from the Black Forest into the world

“With Junghans, you show not status but style.” I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Junghans Academy. Values like design, tradition, trust, ‘Made in Germany’, technology and brand recognition were the focus of my visit. At the Junghans brand, these values are a matter of course, but also a daily incentive.

Once the largest watch manufacturer in the world, the company faced rough seas in 2009, when the very existence of the brand was in peril. That year, Dr Hans-Jochen Steim and his son Hannes Steim took over the company. In terms of units produced, the watch factory has once again achieved its former level of success. With about 50,000 watches per year, Junghans has reclaimed the position of largest German manufacturer, and the brand is more successful than ever in its long history.

The highly motivated employees at the academy told us all about this exciting history, the company philosophy, some simple and some complex technical information, and the innovations of 2017.

After we had the chance to take a look at the new pieces in this year’s collection, such as the “Meister Driver Automatic”, the “Form C”, the “Meister Pilot” (with DLC coating), or the “Meister Driver Day Date”, we certainly understand why Junghans employees are so enthusiastic about the watches. My personal highlight was the “Max Bill”, an edition limited to 222 pieces, whose creative and artistic caseback fascinated me above all else. Max Bill describes it as “a pure interplay of form and colour… with the only purpose of bringing joy through its very existence”.

Apart from the watches, we also had the chance to see the Junghans Museum and the watch factory. What’s interesting about this is the fact that the architecturally impressive terraced building is landmark protected.

At one point in the day, the participants’ attention was tested in a game. We were given a sheet of tricky multiple-choice questions to answer together with the other people at our table, and had to find errors in the display decorations, all to earn points. Before the very informative and educational day came to a close and we finished the evening over a cold drink at the hotel bar, the winners of the game were presented with a prize by the Junghans Company.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 14. July 2017 BY Julie Hebbeler

Another step on the path to becoming a jewellery expert

It is no secret that sparkling stones radiate their very own magic and it does not take much convincing to develop a certain enthusiasm for the subject matter.

Together with six other young colleagues from different Wempe showrooms, I enjoy the privilege to delve into this fascinating subject more deeply at the USE Training Centre in Pforzheim. What place in the world could be better suited to this training programme than the “gold city” of Pforzheim, which celebrated its 250-year anniversary under that distinction this year.

The jewellery expert training programme is a three-year training course offered by Wempe. It encompasses two one-week courses per year on a variety of topics, where we expand our knowledge of diamonds, precious gems and pearls.

So far we have taken three of these training units. Each unit was taught by a different instructor – each one a specialist in her field. Of course, the basic knowledge about coloured gemstones and diamonds consisted of a lot of theoretical lessons, but as it was interspersed with excursions, e.g. to cutter’s shops or the mineral museum in Idar-Oberstein, it was all conveyed in an interesting and lively way.

But of course the best part was when, during the last course, we had a chance to work with the stones hands-on. Armed with magnifying glasses, forceps, refractometers, spectroscopes and other equipment we scarcely knew how to pronounce, I became aware of what an – admittedly – unglamorous journey such a stone has to take before it is cut and polished to perfection and becomes a gem. In past courses we had learned about the development, mining and processing of stones. Now it was time to master the skill of identifying the individual stones. This is particularly important when two minerals look very much alike at first glance, but have vastly different values, as is the case for instance with diamonds and their many imitations.

Countless stones of every conceivable colour and shape were waiting for us to give them a “passport”. Only the numbers printed on their tiny black boxes allowed us to look them up in a small booklet to see if our examinations had yielded the correct result.

At first we were very uncertain: “What do you read in which device?”, “Do I have to leave both eyes open?”, “What value am I supposed to see there?”, “How do you read this table?”, “But that doesn’t match the value my gadget is giving me!”…“Hey, where is my stone, anyway?”

But with every completed examination, our doubts faded more and more. We had to smile when, after a few successful days, we caught ourselves throwing specialist jargon about as if we had known it for ages. Finally, on the last day, we took a test. Each of us was given one stone to identify.  Since we all managed to come to the correct conclusion, we were able to conclude an exciting week with a real feeling of success.

We really look forward to our next course on the topic of pearls and proper techniques for drawing jewellery.

CONTRIBUTION WRITTEN ON 16. June 2017 BY Luise Rueffer

Tips for a successful final exam for watchmakers

We, the third-year watchmaker’s apprentices in Glashütte, are currently right in the middle of preparing for our final exams. Even long before the tests, we got together and discussed the various ways we can make our studies as effective as possible. We all agreed on one point above all: That it would be best to retake the exams of the relevant vocational training subjects to achieve an optimum level of recognition.
We also formed a study group.
This gives us a double benefit: Those who have questions can ask them and quickly get answers. Those who answer the questions enjoy a repetition effect and can test their knowledge.

All in all, the exam preparations for the theoretical exams looked like this: Writing index cards on the most important and most difficult topics of watch technology and repeating them daily, retaking all exams from the three years of apprenticeship again, meeting with our study group several times to talk through all exam-relevant topics again and practicing technical drawing, practicing the multiple choice questions with the business studies app, preparing questions for the respective topics of the consultations at vocational school, and repeating theoretical knowledge with our instructor at the training centre.

With these methods, we successfully passed the theoretical part of the exam two weeks ago. Next is the practical part. As for the theory exam, we have been getting prepared for the practical test for three years. The main task falls to Elisabeth Gläser, who over the past three years taught us and trained with us everything from the very basics all the way to special watch technologies. Through it all, she was always available to assist us with any problems. Her preparation for the practical exam includes, for example, a Nomos Tangente in which she has installed some defects. We have to completely repair the watch. Afterwards, our instructor evaluates our work on the watch, gives us direct feedback and, if necessary, suggestions for improvement. Apart from the mechanical watch, we also have to work on a quartz watch for the test. In our training centre, we practice disassembling and assembling various types of quartz watches and measuring with the quartz watch test devices. Another part of the exam consists of producing a component for a mechanical watch. We manufacture various components of a watch in the time allowed, and our trainer evaluates them to give us a better idea of our skill level.

This intensive preparation is only possible thanks to the state-of-the-art equipment at our disposal at the training centre, the individual support we can receive in our small group of apprentices, and the outstanding competence of our instructor Elisabeth Gläser.

All of these factors allow us to be perfectly prepared for our exams and put us on track for a successful career start with Wempe after our apprenticeship.

Warmest regards,