On 29 May in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the “striking mechanism” for a pocket watch by Janina Thiele was awarded the first prize of the Swiss watchmaking competition, “Concours Institut Horlogerie Cartier 2010” (IHC). Patrick Ritschel and Eric Geissler, two further apprentices from Lange, came fifth and sixth.
The IHC competition is held annually in Switzerland for budding watchmakers. And the Lange watchmaker school is the sole German training school permitted to compete against the Swiss. All twelve apprentices of the third year of apprenticeship took up the challenge. “We can be very proud of all participants, and it is an excellent result that no less than three of the eight works distinguished came from our ranks”, relates Katja König, Head of the Lange Watchmaking School.
The theme of this year’s competition was the fabrication of an acoustic display system capable of displaying the change of the hour on a pocket watch. For the implementation of the task, all competition participants were given the same Unitas 6497 basis calibre. The allotted time for the work was 32 hours. In addition, the five member expert jury set out conditions in respect to the parts to be used, and the work techniques and measurements of the finished watch movement. But apart from that, there were no further limitations on the skill and inventiveness of the participants, so the result was a mixture of creative and impressive works.
The excitement of the winners rose constantly in the weeks before the winners were announced. “After all, it isn’t every day that one wins an award for one’s own work”, says the winner, Janina Thiele. Now she is looking forward to the first prize – a one-week trip to New York. In addition to that she received – as did the other winners – a Cartier watch.
Already last year apprentices at the Lange Watchmaking School achieved success in the Concours competition. Here, Elisa Kunze received in 2009 an award for her work on the theme of “realization of a lock system“.
The promotion of up-and-coming watchmakers has long been a permanent fixture in the Lange company culture: 165 years ago, Ferdinand A. Lange, the founder of the German fine watchmaker, started in Saxon Glashütte an “institute to train young people of the Erzgebirge region in the skills of watchmaking in their homeland, and thus lay the foundation for a secure future“. In the course of re-establishment following the reunification of Germany, Lange took up the tradition begun in 1845, and carries it forward with commitment.