Lange’s training course for the new year has begun on August 19, 2013. Seventeen young students from different regions of Germany have passed pre-qualification. They will learn more about the mysteries of Lange’s watchmaking skills in the next three years. The watch factory trains two mold craftsmen at the same time. Lange currently has 41 students who specialize in making watches and molds.
But why are young people of this generation aspiring to be watchmakers? In fact, they are mostly technological ‘fanatics.’ Others are inspired by relatives and friends in the industry. Someone originally wanted to be an actor, but found that the workbench for making a movement with a diameter of 30 mm was the stage for their talents. Laura Schreiber is one of them. One day, she attended a professional exhibition. In front of the Lange booth, she picked up a piece of metal and started assembling. From that moment, she clearly found her life goal. This year is the third year of Laura’s apprenticeship with Lange. She will share with us her past training experience and her outlook for the future.
Lange is training 41 young students
‘We can think of a mechanical movement as a complex three-dimensional puzzle consisting of up to 500 parts with a diameter of 3 cm. Many of these parts weigh only a few milligrams and can only be seen under a magnifying glass. However, when you complete This jigsaw puzzle, the entire complex device instantly breathes life into it, it feels very wonderful. One of the fascinating aspects of watchmaking is that you can see the results you have built with your own hands.
However, I also have a long way to go to make a fully functioning watch. It all started at the Lange Watch School. On the first class day two years ago, Katja König, the principal instructor, explained to us the content of the course. I couldn’t believe that I would learn so much about watchmaking in three years. The first week passed quickly. I met future colleagues in various departments. In the teaching studio, I personally tried basic metalworking techniques such as filing, sawing, turning, drilling, and taking theoretical classes at the vocational school in Glashütte.
Laura. Schreiber (middle) and Chief Instructor Ka Jia. Koenig and student Stefan Schulze
Laura. Schreiber (left) and student Stefan Schultz (right)
Six months later, we finally had access to the coveted timing device. Initially, the instructor used a clock movement to show us the mechanical components and explain the functions one by one. Before the end of the first year of apprenticeship training, the instructor asked me to see the work of other watchmakers in the watch factory. Within three weeks, I went to different production departments to gain experience and met many new colleagues. This was the first time I felt I became a real watchmaker.
In the second year, we gradually started making watches. First of all, we need to understand the design, function and repair process of pocket watches, which has been the starting point for all things Lange has done for 165 years. For me, the most important thing is to build your first watch. During the mid-term test of apprenticeship training, I demonstrated everything I learned at the time by operating the perfect components. I was very successful that time!
This year is the third year and I have entered the final stage of the training! I have a lot to learn, such as self-winding watches, big calendars, chronographs and other extra watch functions. In addition, I was selected to participate in the exchange program at the Danish School of Watchmaking in Ringsted. I will work with a colleague from Denmark to complete a watch. I will personally polish and decorate the surface of all parts. I also personally adjust the amplitude of the watch to make the time display accurate to the second. Training in Ringsted is not only important for clocks, but fluent English is also important. Fortunately, Lange offers language courses throughout the apprenticeship program, giving me the confidence to get everything done smoothly.
For Lange apprentices, one of the special challenges of the third year was participating in an international competition for future watchmakers. This is a great opportunity to showcase creativity and craftsmanship. Former students of Lange have won the competition twice. Final exams are getting closer. If I get good grades, I meet the requirements agreed at the beginning of the apprenticeship and can stay at Lange full-time. I really look forward to it. ‘