FEBRUARY 20, 2008

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OSU-Okmulgee’s watchmaking program receives $1 million grant from Rolex

Close-up photo of a male student working on a wristwatch.
OSU-Okmulgee watchmaking student Kevin Tuck, from League City, Texas, concentrates on his work.

Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee’s highly recognized watchmaking program is moving into a new era thanks to the backing and generosity of Rolex, the world’s premier name in watches. With a $1 million, five-year commitment, Rolex has become the exclusive underwriter of the OSU-Okmulgee watchmaking and microtechnology program. Established in 1946, the OSU-Okmulgee program has developed an excellent reputation both locally and nationally in serving the needs of the watchmaking industry.

“Rolex values the long standing educational commitment that OSU-Okmulgee has made to the watchmaking profession in the United States,” said Charles Berthiaume, senior vice president for technical operations at Rolex U.S.A. “We look forward to partnering with the university to develop a program that provides the specialized technical skills that are needed to support the growing luxury watch market worldwide."

Dr. Robert Klabenes, president of OSU-Okmulgee, said the decision by Rolex to become the exclusive industry financial underwriter of OSU-Okmulgee’s watchmaking program provides the university the opportunity to fulfill its long-standing goal of offering a true world-class program.

“Rolex is not only the largest single luxury watch brand in the world, but it is also the brand most widely recognized and held in the highest esteem,” Klabenes said. “Our students, faculty and staff feel both privileged and humbled by Rolex’s decision to partner with our program. This is an historic step.”

OSU-Okmulgee’s watchmaking program offers intense, thorough training in this challenging and exacting art. Students develop the hand skills necessary for making and maintaining tools, servicing and repairing fine timepieces, and manufacturing watch parts. Critical thinking and problem solving abilities are strengthened so the mind becomes as much a part of the solution as the tools in the watchmaker’s hand.

These traditional skills, coupled with equipment utilizing the latest technology, allow watchmaking program graduates to work at a higher technological standard than ever before. Graduates of the OSU-Okmulgee watchmaking program find numerous career opportunities, both in the United States and abroad, with employment available in watch brand service centers, independent service centers, and jewelry stores and many other available options.

Jim Lubic, executive director of American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute (AWCI), has been on the OSU-Okmulgee watchmaking advisory board for many years and said he always has been impressed with the high quality of the facilities and the university’s support of the program. Lubic said Rolex’s involvement will be a real plus for a program known for the quality and success of its students.

“It will be a real pleasure for AWCI to work with a highly acclaimed watch company such as Rolex as well as a respected watchmaking school such as OSU-Okmulgee,” Lubic said. “Both are well-known in the field of horology, and AWCI is pleased that our industry-recognized certification will be the standard for the final exam. We look forward to working with Rolex to develop a state-of-the-art program.”

OSU-Okmulgee utilizes the AWCI CW21™ course of study, designed specifically to develop the type of skilled craftsman needed to service high-grade watches. The culmination of the students’ studies will be AWCI’s industry-recognized Certified Watchmaker 21™ exam. OSU-Okmulgee’s industry-driven integrated associate degree program ensures that graduates are well-rounded, professional watchmakers.

Rolex has led the industry in providing funding for the training and education of skilled watchmakers since 2000 when it established a $1 million grant to North Seattle Community College in Washington and renewed the grant in 2005. In 2001 Rolex established its own Lititz Watch Technicum, a not-for-profit foundation that has already produced more than 50 watchmakers for the industry. In 2004 Rolex pledged a $1 million grant to the Saint Paul College watchmaking program in Minnesota. Beyond its extensive investment in watchmaking education in the United States, Rolex also operates the Tokyo Watch Technicum in Japan and the Rolex Training Centre in Mumbai, India.

Contact: Sharon Smith, OSU-Okmulgee, (918) 293-5140