Manuel Yazijian, CMW21 (Certified Master Watchmaker, 21st Century)

Watchmaking Instructor serving the After Sales Service market
                                          Personal Notes

Hands-on, book, internet  and audiovisual learning?

As past full-time watchmaking instructor at the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI), I have always been asked if "internet training courses" in watch repair could be developed. 

Prior to my employment with the AWCI I was always of the opinion that, indeed, folks could learn by leafing through pages with pictures and words (i.e. books) by greats such as Donald DeCarle, Henry B. Fried, H. Jendritzki etc. Also, with the advent of the internet, instant communication had become part of everyday life that surely a method of non hands-on learning methods should become a possibility. After all, if doctors are able to conduct remote surgeries then why can't we teach watch repair by internet or Video/DVD?

The simple answer is - touch and instant correction, or lack thereof. The fine art of watch repair (also known as watchmaking) requires a tremendous amount of skill, control of fine motor skills, focus, knowledge of theory and materials and attention to detail among others. While it is possible that the non-tactile theoretical portion of this profession can initially be learned by reading books, or online; it remains that the final touch has to be shown by a real live flesh and blood person who possesses the knowledge and experience and willing to impart with. 

One of my favorite lines regarding internet training is, "When you and I can shake hands over the internet and you can feel the temperature of my hand, the pressure I apply, the overall texture of my skin, then maybe we can teach over the internet" Until such time, the best method is to have a live instructor look over the student's shoulder and make corrections or recommendations as needed. "Touch and feel" certainly make up a major part of this profession. 

The other equally important part of training is "instant correction". Ideally, courses are best taught "one on one". Having a private tutor is unrivaled in value, as the tutor can give total attention to the student and correct him/her at every step of the learning process. Whether in a group setting or individual, an instructor present with student(s) is of paramount importance. In an internet or DVD type of training, this feature is definitely lacking and the student will inevitably interpret the information in his or her own way, this opens the door to a lifelong practice of incorrect methods, which becomes frustrating to both watchmaker and client. This is part of the reason why there are so many well-meaning, but inept watchmakers worldwide. 

Some wish everyone had USB ports somewhere on their bodies where they could hook up directly to a databank of knowledge and skill, 
à la "The Matrix" where "Neo" (Keanu Reeves) is downloaded with martial arts skills, but for better or worse, this is not the case. 

While there are certain less skilled areas of our profession where audiovisual training has a place, it still has to be in a supervised environment by a qualified instructor.

The jury may still be out on training methods and audiovisual training can and is used in conjunction with traditional teaching methods, however, the ultimate question is, "how tight is my grip?"

Manuel Yazijian,