North Texas

Inside Fort Worth's Highly Competitive Watchmaking School

Inside an unassuming office building in Fort Worth, timing is everything.

Amalia Aquino moved here from New Jersey. She's one of just eight students accepted this year to the highly competitive North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking.

"I've always wanted to be a watchmaker since I was a little girl," said Aquino.

She's just now learning the trade, while across the hall Kevin Kocher is perfecting his skills. He started in the shipping department 19 years ago and worked his way up to watchmaker.

"I grew up in a family that buys $20 watches and when the battery dies you buy a $20 watch," said Kevin Kocher. "[I had] no idea that watches of this level existed."

Kocher now spends his days tinkering with priceless heirlooms.

"These are of a quality that you are going to hand them down to your kids and as a long as there are people like me, they can be repaired," said Kocher.

The school is run by Richemont, a luxury brand that makes watches priced from the thousands to millions of dollars.

John Sokol oversees the demanding training program.

"Watches commemorate certain things that electronics can't," said John Sokol. "A watch you can hold on to for a lifetime and it means something to people."

And that meaning, Sokol said, is the driving force behind training a new generation of watchmakers.

"The first time I had an old pocket watch that wasn't working and you clean it and you oil it and you don't know how old it could be and you put it all back together and finally it starts ticking, it's just so rewarding, it's incredible," said Aquino.

For more on the school and how to apply: NAIOSW - North American Institute of Swiss Watchmaking

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