The process of learning a craft. Period in which a trainee is apprenticed. Apprenticeship contract, documents setting out the terms and conditions of the apprenticeship. Origin of apprenticeship. One of the oldest statutes of apprenticeship in horology was enacted by Francis I in 1544. It laid down the rules governing the presentation of the "masterpiece" and the conditions for entering the profession. Apprentices trained for a period of six years, subsequently extended to 8 years by the Corporations in 1646. In Geneva, apprenticeships began at the age of 12 and lasted for 5 years. Once a young watchmaker had produced a timepiece (the masterpiece), he would continue as a companion for one year and later for 2 years before being accepted into the profession. For a long time, apprenticeships focused predominantly on manual skills. The master watchmakers trained outstanding practitioners, some of whom were genuine artists constructing entire watches using rudimentary tools.