Patience was likely the most important character trait that Dresden native Ferdinand A. Lange brought along to Glashütte in 1845. It is where he trained 15 young men to become watchmakers, among them a plasterer, a quarry worker, and several straw braiders. He expected patience of them as well, even after they had completed their official appren-ticeships, because “there is always so much to learn every day,” as he stressed in a letter to the Saxon Ministry of the Interior in January 1852.
Patience and eagerness to learn are also among the strengths of the seven youngsters who at A. Lange & Söhne accepted their diplomas on 9 July 2014. “Both assets will play an important role during on-the-job familiarisation,” said manufactory director Tino Bobe in a conversation with the graduates. The apprenticeship, he noted, is only the first step in a learning process that does not end when the training phase is completed. Watchmakers not only need artisanal skills and technical knowledge, they must also acquire routine by intensively training the different steps involved in assembling a movement. “In my experience, it takes about 12 to 18 months for a staff member to attain roughly 80 per cent of the capacity of a colleague who has been pursuing the same activity for five years,” Tino Bobe pointed out.
The graduates begin to work in the manufactory the day after receiving their diplomas. The instructors of the Lange Watchmaking School prepared them well for this transition. As trainees, they initially practice with the German silver movement plates that are typical for Lange watches. This requires extreme caution to prevent scratches of the polished and decorated parts; they wear latex finger cots to protect the sensitive material. Their instructors persistently urge them to place the greatest emphasis on quality and cleanli-ness. The graduates benefit from a wide variety of entry-level job options within the manufactory's different ateliers. Exciting perspectives for their unfolding careers await them in departments devoted to the assembly of complications, to service, or to product development, for instance.
“It's delightful to see how experienced staff members help their young colleagues out by revealing tricks that simplify one or the other assembly step,” notes Tino Bobe. The grad-uates are encouraged to preserve their curiosity and willingness to keep learning. And in moments when they might be tempted to just give up, there is one trait that helps most: patience.