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Winsor Bishop prides itself on its values as an employer and on helping its staff progress in their careers. This is key when it comes to the knowledge required as a retailer for major watch brands such as OMEGA.
Last month, Keiko, our in-house OMEGA expert, embarked on a rather amazing experience at a training event in Bienne, Switzerland. Known as level 3 in OMEGA Ambassador Training.
This isn’t a course just anyone can attend. Attendees need to pass level 1 and level 2 OMEGA training and receive approval from Switzerland. The training program is for the very best sales associates in the world. Giving them the opportunity to meet, study, share and celebrate the amazing spirit of OMEGA. We're very proud of Keiko's dedication and expertise as an OMEGA Ambassador.
To add some perspective. There were only fourteen delegates who attended from all over the globe.
Keiko gave us a run down of the training course.
The first day of training at OMEGA HQ began with a speech from Mr Aeschliman, President and CEO. This was followed by a tour of the factory to view assembly, METAS certification and see the final stages of watch production, prior to dispatch.
“The Central Stock Station was amazing,” commented Keiko. “It contains over 332K boxes of components. Oxygen levels are kept at 15% (air normally is 20%) to avoid oxidation of components and reduce fire risk. We also saw watches being tested to meet METAS certification. METAS is a stringent level of 8 tests conducted over 10 days to ensure superior precision and magnetic resistance.
“The day continued with a visit to the OMEGA Museum which showcases the history of OMEGA. It includes interactive experiences such as a 9mm Olympic running track. The track lets visitors experience official Olympic timekeeper technology. (The track is featured below, right)
“There’s also a rather impressive archive of watches produced since 1848. This includes the famous Calibre 19 named 'OMEGA' of 1894. The first Seamaster released in 1948, and the Speedmaster which was worn during the 1969 moon landing. Well-known names were also mentioned, including JFK and not forgetting 007. It was heaven for an Omega enthusiast like me!” Keiko continued.
“The highlight, however, was to get to try on a Platinum Calibre 321 Moonwatch. This is one of the most beautiful timepieces I have ever seen. We were given the opportunity to have a photograph taken with our favourite watch by a professional photographer.”
Keiko was sworn to secrecy about the factory visits, but she could divulge a little information about the experience.
“Technology at the factories is so innovative and advanced. OMEGA is constantly developing its products through new materials and techniques. The Nivarox factory, for example, strives to develop internal industrial resources to meet new challenges of timekeeping and improve watch accuracy. The technology developed for production of silicon components is absolutely at the cutting edge. We also visited one of ETA factories which exclusively works for OMEGA."
“The watch making course with Master Watchmaker Mariano was a very memorable day,” Keiko continued. “After a brief presentation of watchmaking terminologies, we were all given a watchmaker's coat and a workbench. In front of us they placed a 36.60mm Calibre 2201 movement, case, glass, hands, strap and various tools.
"Mariano guided us through each step of disassembling the movement then reassembling them. This whole process required precision, a high level of concentration, steady hands and serious attention to detail. It was very satisfying especially the moment the watch started ticking. Then we fitted the dial, hands, cased up the watch and attached the strap.”
Keiko had a final test the following morning before leaving Bienne for Lucerne. All 14 delegates passed and were presented with a certificate and a special Grand Ambassador bracelet. Keiko described it as a very special moment after a long intense week.
"I definitely learnt much more about the complexity of watch making. Looking at actual movement, disassembling and reassembling. I now have a deeper respect for watchmakers than I ever had before. Hands on experience definitely made me understand and appreciate each timepiece even more.
"I’d also say, the importance of Swatch Group. Without Nivarox and ETA, the world of watches would be very different. Their ability to source and develop materials and their capability to develop equipment to produce such components is flawless. Standards are second to none."
"I want to share what I saw during this visit and increase brand recognition. I want everyone to see how important OMEGA is in the world of watches and the contribution Swatch Group is making. Seeing OMEGA's technology in real-life was amazing.
"It’s important for all our Winsor Bishop staff to understand how OMEGA has evolved through its history. I now have an even deeper understanding on the mechanisms, materials and production of the watches we sell. Plus I have so many stories that will make a massive difference to sharing knowledge with our customers."