Watchmakers College Has 20th Anniversary

The Watch Word, November 1940

With a record of having trained more than 1,800 young men to be expert watchmakers, the Elgin National Watch Company Watchmakers College soon will begin its 21st year.

The college, which now has an enrollment of 80 students and a full-time faculty of six, was begun in 1920 by the watch company in response to a demand for skilled craftsmen in the watch repair trade. The college was provided with an endowment fund of $150,000 by the company to make sure that the best and latest equipment would be available for students. .

The college building itself was especially designed for instruction. It is fireproof, has ample light for all class work and a ventilating system. Benches used by the students are of solid construction and each is equipped with a cabinet for students to store their equipment.

Administration of the college affairs is handled by the following officers: T. Albert Potter, president; P. E. Stringer, vice president and treasurer; John M. Biggins, secretary; W. H. Samelius, director; and Edward L. Schmidt, registrar. Members of the faculty are Mr. Samelius, Mr. Schmidt, Jacob L. Hagelow, Jr., R. L. Davis, D. D. Sheldon and Robert Van Wambeke.

Mr. Samelius also is observing an anniversary with the college this year, for this marks his 20th year as director of the institution. He came here six months after the college was opened. Prior to that he had been an instructor in watchmaking for disabled soldiers and apprentices. The director's father and grandfather also were expert watch and clock makers in Sweden. Mr. Samelius came here in 1892 to join his father, who had arrived in the United States before him.

Mr. Samelius has received many honors as director of the college. He is technical director of the United Horological association, is on the educational committee of the Horological Institute of America and has been presented with gold membership cards in the New York Horological society, the Tennessee Watchmakers' association and a silver membership card in the Ohio Horological society. Since he has been at the college, the director has spent much of his leisure time making clocks of varied materials. He has on display clocks made of glass, celluloid, brass, plastics and wood.

Ray A. Miner, of Iowa, gets information about the college and its work from W. H. Samelius, director.

Although the college and the watch company are administered as separate institutions, students in the college benefit from the facilities of the company.

The Elgin National Watch Company Watchmakers College is shown above. The college is 20 years old, has an enrollment of 80 and a full time faculty of six.

They not only are in close contact with the traditions of Elgin craftsmanship, but they enjoy the benefits of the latest and best technical advances constantly being developed in the company.

Teaching is not by rote in the college. All instruction is handled individually by the expert watchmakers on the faculty, thus enabling a student to progress as rapidly as he learns. Work in the college is laid out in easy stages. Beginners first take up filing, turning, hardening, tempering and polishing of steel, which prepare them for the next step, consisting of staff making, jewel setting, truing balances, truing hairsprings, etc., thus leading up to actual watch repair work. Bi-weekly lectures are given so that practical and theoretical points in watch and clock repair work may be explained to the students. Colored slides are used to illustrate these lectures and clarify points.

A course in drafting is offered the students. This is coordinated with other classroom work so that the escapement drawing work will coincide with the adjustment of escapements being taught in another department. Then the student is ready for his first steps in watch work. They learn how to dissemble and clean movements, how to make alterations and simple repairs, how to select and fit jewels, how to select and adjust hairsprings, how to level and properly circle hairsprings, how to measure for and select hairsprings by gauge, how to match escapements and make proper adjustments, how to fit and adjust watch movements to cases, and many more operations encountered in watch repair work.

This actual bench work under the careful tutelage of expert watch makers is carefully coordinated with the lecture course, so that by the time 11 months have elapsed, most of the students are prepared to take and pass the examinations for junior watchmakers set up by the Horological Institute of America. And it might be pointed out that more students from the Elgin Watchmakers college have passed this examination than from any other school.

Above. Dr. Samelius explains an intricate problem in gearing to three pupils in the Watchmakers College.

Registrar Edward Schmidt also runs the storeroom. Above he is getting material for Emilia Barborka, of Los Angeles, sole girl student at present.

Students also are offered optional courses in the college, including engraving and jewelry repairing - at no extra charge to the student.

Tuition at the college is $225 for the school year of 11 months. Of this 10 per cent will be deducted for cash paid in advance. Tuition also may be paid in quarterly or monthly installments. Students also must own a set of tools costing approximately $50.

Former students at the college today are employed as watch and jewelry repairmen throughout the world. Students have come to the college from India, Italy, Japan, Alaska, Canada, Hawaii, and every state in the union.

Mr. Samelius reports that many of his former students keep in close touch with the college so that they can enjoy the benefits of the latest technical advances. The college is glad to help its former students keep in contact with new de"elopments, the director said.

Key Ota, whose father is a Los Angeles jeweler, finds engraving requires a steady hand and patience.

Because of its high standards, the college has been recognized by the Horological Institute of America, and students at the college are eligible to receive one of the annual scholarship awards given by the institute. Also because of those high standards, jewelers over the nation are in frequent communication with the college officials in search of expert watch repairmen for well-paid positions in the trade.

Joedale Helms, an Iowa student, is using a blowpipe, left, while Jack Miller, of Oklahoma, does some filing.

Additional equipment and work benches have been set up at the watch college to make room for the addition of approximately 20 new finishing students, P. E. Stringer, vice president in charge of manufacturing, has announced.

"We are prepared to consider applications from about 20 students for places in the college," Mr. Stringer said.

"These students would be taught finishing work in courses which would extend over a period of from four to six months.

"Prospective students who may be interested in this opportunity of enrolling for the special course may contact Russell E. Conyne, employment manager."

Above a group of students at the Watchmakers College gathers around Jacob Hagelow for instruction.

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