Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/73

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63
THE SWISS WATCH SCHOOLS.

The writer was greatly interested in this nation of watchmakers, and gave some attention, during a recent visit to that country, to the Swiss methods of making watchmakers, as well as of making and marketing watches.

The Écoles d'Horlogerie — schools of watchmaking — are under the municipal management in Switzerland precisely as are our

PSM V46 D073 Watch plate on which the movement is built.jpg
Fig. 1. — Plate.

common schools. Special permission must be obtained by any one desiring to visit either the watch or the common schools. There are watchmaking schools at Geneva, Neufchâtel, Chaux-de-Fond, Locle, Bienne, Ste. Imier, and Porentruy.

The idea of going to school to learn to make watches would strike an American schoolboy as queer enough. Doubtless many of them who find the arithmetic and geography and grammar to go rather heavily, but who are fond nevertheless of seeing "the wheels go round," would think it a blessed existence to study nothing at school except these wheels, how to make them, and make them go round. But the reality loses the novelty and charm with which the American schoolboy might invest it long before the slow, thorough, exacting work is done which entitles the Swiss boy to graduate an accredited watchmaker.

The school the writer visited is the extensive one at Geneva. Being provided with the requisite permission, and escorted by an "alumnus" of the institution, he was shown every courtesy and afforded every opportunity to observe.

One is first ushered into the beginners' room. To enter, a boy must be at least fourteen. He will first be introduced to a woodturning lathe and set at turning tool handles. He will be kept at this from eight days to several weeks, according to aptitude. Then he will be advanced to the work of filing and shaping screwdrivers and similar' tools. These, and all other tools which he may afterward make, will be his own. Being in course of time to some extent provided with tools, he will undertake making a large wooden pattern of a watch frame perhaps as large as a dining plate. After he has learned just how this frame is to be shaped, he is given a ready-cut one of brass of the ordinary size, and he begins drilling the holes for the wheels and screws (Fig. 1). All along the masters stand over him and instruct him. The circular pieces of brass which are put into his hands here