April 14, 2015
by Rob Nudds
Some big news for little watchmakers: it has been announced that Vacheron Constantin, the world’s oldest continuously operating watchmaking brand, will be sharing their wisdom with the next generation of horological heroes. On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, Vacheron Constantin will be holding a children’s workshop at their New York boutique as part of Madison Avenue Watch Week. Young visitors will be encouraged to tap into 260 years of experience, have their questions answered and maybe even have their hearts set on the path towards a career in the industry.
The hands-on workshop will be led by an instructor from the North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking and children will have the opportunity to learn the basics of how a mechanical watch works and even get the chance to make and take home their own clock!
From a personal perspective, this is very exciting news. As a watchmaker aware of the worrying dearth of skilled operatives in the industry, I believe that encouraging young people to consider horology as a career is of the utmost importance. I was already twenty years old when I decided to spend my time studying time. I began my journey as an academic, consuming books, magazines and blog articles as often as I could. There was no obvious way for me to gain hands-on experience. By studying the history of horology, I came to appreciate the skill, craftsmanship, and level of commitment that the discipline required, I became hooked and resolved to train professionally; what has followed is a rewarding and endlessly challenging career.
Making the same kind of theoretical information visible and available to children would be great, but giving kids the chance to learn about horology in a practical setting from a real-life expert is even better. I cannot emphasise enough how important this could be to watchmaking as an industry and to the individuals who may benefit from it. Not all children learn from books or lectures; plenty need to get to grips with the tools, the metal, the physical problem to get their heads around it. Some of the greatest inventors in history did so on intuition. That is what sessions like this might unearth. And that’s a triumph on a macro and a micro scale.
Most children have seen a watch and probably take them for granted as utilitarian devices (many adults are the same). Showing children the secrets that lie behind the dial at an age when their minds are free enough to soar with amazement makes perfect sense. I remember how I felt when I first realized what was happening, the euphoria when it all made sense, the sense of achievement when I dropped the balance wheel into place for the first time and saw the watch come to life before my eyes. I can only imagine how much of an effect that would have had on me as a child. A mechanical watch is exciting for its complexity and motion. The language of time is one that must be learned, and, as we know, the best way to learn a language is to start young.
Fundamentally, watches are logical machines. They seem to have a soul because of the love, care, and attention that goes into their creation, but they work because every component makes sense. Children are often able to see this clearer and more quickly than an adult because they are better able to concern themselves with the problem at hand, rather than involuntarily slotting said problem into the wider context of the world. For this reason (and really, because it sounds like a totally awesome day out for the whole family), the Vacheron Constantin Children’s Workshop is one of the highlights of the horological calendar (if you either have kids, or reckon you can adequately disguise yourself as one).
How successful this event will be will depend largely on the host’s ability to engage his young audience, but I doubt this will be too much of a struggle. Mechanical watches are visually and intellectually fascinating. If a child wants to attend the event, I doubt he or she will be disappointed with what they get from the experience. I’ve seen young children entertain themselves for hours with a stick. I’m pretty sure a mechanical watch will provide enough intrigue to hold their attention.
The workshop will take place on Saturday, April 25th, 2015, between 10am and 2pm, at Vacheron Constantin Boutique, 729 Madison Avenue at 64th Street, New York, New York. You can turn up whenever you like between those hours, but please let them know that you and your mini-micro-mechanic will be attending. Get in touch with VC, either by emailing them at [email protected], or by calling Daniel Adams at 212-891-2307.
There will be games, activities and snacks, as well as a rare opportunity to see behind the often closed doors of high-end Swiss Watchmaking. If you are in NYC at the time and your child has an interest in mechanical pursuits – or you wish to see him or her make the first steps into the realms of horology at one of the all-time greats – then this might be an event you do not want them to miss! vacheron-constantin.com