The first watchmakers in Glashütte were aware that their artful craft could only survive and prosper if their expertise and experience could be maintained over time.
To support the education of young watchmakers, Germany’s first watchmaking school, the "Deutsche Uhrmacherschule Glashütte" (German School of Watchmaking Glashütte) was established on May 1, 1878, the such school of its kind. The school trained watchmakers for more 114 years.
After a successful start of the watchmaking training in the workshops of the manufactory in 2001, Glashütte Original opened its own dedicated School of Watchmaking on 12 September 2002 with a festive ceremony. In April 2008, the school moved into the elaborately renovated and modernized building of the former German School of Watchmaking, which also houses the German Watch Museum Glashütte.
Each year at this storied site in the heart of the watchmaking town, new generations of watchmakers and toolmakers are educated – just as the old masters of Glashütte intended.
The watchmaking school owes its name to a former student, exceptional teacher and famous inventor: Alfred Helwig. He was born July 5th, 1886 in Goldbach in the district of Sorau.
He completed his education in 1905 by attending the German School of Watchmaking in Glashütte. On April 1, 1913, at the age of 26, Alfred Helwig was appointed as an instructor at the school.
Alfred Helwig’s exceptional knowledge soon made him an outstanding support for the school. His motto was: “Human beings are not made into watchmakers here but rather watchmakers are educated to be human beings”. This underlines his emphasis on the human aspect of education and the teaching of important values.
It was during his time as a teacher that Alfred Helwig developed, together with his apprentices, a new, cantilevered version of the tourbillon mechanism, which counters the negative effects of gravity on rate precision.
With the construction of this “Flying Tourbillon” in 1920 he achieved a genuine stroke of genius that continues to fascinate the experts today. He wrote more than 40 books and magazine articles and his publications remain an important source of specialist knowledge. This applies in particular to his book “Fine Adjustment of Watches” and the series of books “The Course of Training at the German School of Watchmaking”.
Alfred Helwig taught for more than forty years at the German School of Watchmaking and retired in October of 1954. This genius of fine German watchmaking passed away on May 18, 1974 in Glashütte.
In the Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking, young men and women are trained to be watchmakers or toolmakers in accordance with the Free State of Saxony’s framework plan.
From the important basics of metallurgy to direct work on mechanical clocks, pocket watches, and wristwatches: Glashütte Original takes it for granted that the preservation and transmission of expertise must be assured by its own team of teachers.
Close collaboration with the Manufactory guarantees a strong link between theory and practice from day one.
Equipped with the most recent didactic and methodological insights, the present day school sets standards for future-oriented training in a traditional craft.
One of the highlights of the school is undoubtedly the new video presentation technology, which ensures students are provided with accurate information and training concerning even the smallest parts of a watch movement.
Individual steps during the assembly and regulation of a movement are magnified through an electronic microscope and projected onto classroom monitors.
A unique partnership exists between the Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking in Germany and the Swiss “WOSTEP” program (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program)
This partnership allows graduates of the school, who earn the German professional certificate, to sit the final examination of the WOSTEP program and, assuming they pass, to obtain the sought after Swiss diploma and internationally recognized certificate.
Foreign language classes and excursions abroad as well as a partner program with the Watchmaking School of Karlstein, Austria, complete a well-grounded international education.
When beginning students sign their training contract they do so with a very real certainty. Glashütte Original offers all students of the school who complete their training and meet the highest standards for performance are guaranteed a full-time position with Glashütte Original or within the globally operations of Swatch Group Ltd, the Swiss parent company of Glashütte Original.
Every year since 2004, successful graduates of the watchmaking school have been hired into the Manufactory world of Glashütte Original.
The young watchmakers work today in the (sub-)assembly area, in the prototype department and the workshop as well as in customer service. The toolmakers have been successfully integrated in the toolmaking and spark erosion departments.
One of the graduates, Thomas Goldbeck, today works as an instructor at the watchmaking school – as Alfred Helwig once did.
Others have left Glashütte and made their way around the world, to Switzerland and to England, Irland, Australia, South Africa and Hong Kong.
On the one hand, Glashütte Original supports the creativity and artistic skills of its own students, for example in their efforts to skeletonize a pocket watch in accordance with their own ideas and patterns.
The Manufactory also actively supports the development of young artists in other fields and awards them – along with prize money – a special creation made by the students of the watchmaking school.
The award honours the special achievements of an artist who has dedicated considerable time and effort to supporting young talents. The €25,000 prize supports, as the award was intended, the development of these young artists.
Every year, the construction of the filigreed Glashütte Original MusicFestivalAward trophy is undertaken by two apprentice watchmakers from our school in Glashütte, who present the trophy during the official award ceremony.
Since 2011, Glashütte Original has also been a partner of the Berlin International Film Festival. In co-operation with the Berlinale, Glashütte Original created a fellowship to support young German film directors. The €15,000 prize is funded by Glashütte Original.
The trophies that were awarded to the 2012 prize winner Annekatrin Hendel and the 2013 winner, Jan Speckbach, were designed and constructed by 2nd-year students at Glashütte Original’s Alfred Helwig School of Watchmaking in Glashütte.
Students complete a three-year course to become a professional watchmaker
The entire professional training is oriented principally toward the requirements of modern luxury watch production and traditional watchmaking craft skills. Along with other materials, the course covers the following subjects:
- Laws concerning professional training, work and collective bargaining
- Planning, execution and monitoring of work processes
- Checking, marking and measurement as well as allocation and handling of working materials and auxiliary materials
- Manual and machine cutting
- Heat treatment and examination of materials
- Treatment and protection of surfaces
- Maintenance of mechanical watches, watchmaking equipment and their components
- Quality management
Students complete a 3 ½ year course to become a professional toolmaker and specialist in device technology.
The specificity in this case consists in the task of preparing devices and tools used to make very small watch components with minimal production tolerances and in part to use these tools to intervene directly in the production process.
The course covers, among other things, the following subjects:
- Laws concerning professional training, work and collective bargaining
- Planning and organisation of work, evaluation of work results
- Differentiation, allocation and handling of work and auxiliary materials
- Production of components and subassemblies
- Maintenance of production equipment
- How to fasten, secure and transport
- Assembly and disassembly, maintenance of components and subassemblies
- Programming of machines and equipment, and much more.
As a genuine watch manufactory, we would like to continue to meet continuously increasing demand for our products. Every year we offer committed high-school graduates with a good grade point average and good English skills, the opportunity to begin a watchmaker or toolmaker education.
Interest in watches, manual dexterity, a responsible approach to work, but also good grooming and good manners play a role in the choice of the new candidates. Every successful graduate is offered an interesting job in the Manufactory or in one of the other companies belonging to Swatch Group AG, in Germany or elsewhere.
If you consider watchmaking your calling, we will be happy to review your informative application, to include a letter of application, curriculum vita, school-leaving certificate, final grades from trade school (where applicable) as certification documenting any internships completed.
Please send your application for the current year by mail by the end of February, to the following address:
Glashütter Uhrenbetrieb GmbH
Altenberger Str. 1
For detailed questions, you can reach one of our experienced instructors
at +49 (0)35 053 / 46-361 or -365.
You may also submit your application by email at: ausbildung@Glashuette-original.com.