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The Simon Willard Award - The Horological Society Of new York Announces The Simon Willard Award For School Watches

The Simon Willard Award The Horological Society Of new York Announces The Simon Willard Award For School Watches

The Horological Society Of New york (HSNY) announces today a New Financial Aid Initiative For Watchmaking Students In The U.S - The Simon Willard Award for School Watches

Watchmaking schools often ask their students to create a school watch before graduation, allowing students to showcase the multitude of skills learned in watchmaking school. The finished product can be the first step towards independent watchmaking — an art that preserves traditional watchmaking techniques. Making school watches is important, and HSNY wants to help motivate watchmaking students to go the extra mile in their last school project. This award is named for Simon Willard, a pioneer in establishing the American watchmaking industry.

Willard (1753 - 1848) was an important American horologist and trailblazer in the American horological industry. The Willard family clockmaking business was among the first in the U.S., setting up shop around 1780 on Roxbury Street in Boston (later known as Washington Street). Willard’s brother Aaron settled a quarter mile away, and from the 1790s onward, the Willard family workshop built tall clocks in great numbers and performed general clock repair. In 1802, Simon Willard obtained a patent for his famous eight-day "banjo" clock, which is widely considered to be one of the most significant styles of early 19th-century American timepieces. Willard's clocks required skilled hand-craftsmanship, and their movements were outstandingly precise. His own skills were exceptional, and he was able to file cogwheels without leaving file-marks, producing mechanisms with a margin of error of just thirty seconds over the course of a month. By about 1810, both Simon and Aaron were producing clocks that were as good as those being produced in Europe. 

The Simon Willard Award for School Watches is made possible by a generous donation from Samy Al Bahra, a collector of independent timepieces and a proponent of traditional watchmaking education. “I am excited to contribute to the Horological Society of New York's educational mission and I hope the Simon Willard Award helps motivate more watchmaking students in America to take the plunge of sharing their work with the rest of the horological community,” said Samy Al Bahra.

Application Process

Any student enrolled in a full-time watchmaking school in the U.S., or who has graduated no more than one year prior to submitting their entry, is eligible for the Simon Willard Award for School Watches. The entry must be a mechanical watch or clock that was utilized as their school watch project and the applicant must certify that the entry was designed and made by themselves. As is the tradition with school watches, students should at minimum manufacture the bridges. 

To apply, students should complete the form on HSNY’s website. The application period is January 1 to January 31 of every year. Selected applicants will be asked to deliver their watches to HSNY for judging by a Selection Committee comprised of a panel of experts from HSNY’s Board of Trustees and the watch collecting community. Awards will be granted to one student per watch or clock. The winner will be announced each year at HSNY’s annual Gala in April. Awards up to $10,000 are available.