It’s been some time since I’ve provided an update, but fear not I have been busy behind the scenes.
First up I took my 3rd year BHI exams in May 2014, which also included the Drawing Clock/Watch Escapement exam that I had postponed from the 2nd year. The reason for the postponement was that I wasn’t confident that I could do my best unless I put in more effort than I was going to be physically capable of putting in. In the end I spent a good 2 months of my spare time doing nothing but teaching myself how to do a technical drawing and learn how to use AutoCAD. YouTube has some great videos to teach you how to use AutoCAD and the BHI’s booklet on drawing clock/watch escapements is a fantastic step by step guide on how to pass the exam.
I think if you follow the guide enough times; I did each of the examples at least 6 times, then it will be pretty hard to fail the exam, as you’re even allowed to take the booklet telling you how to do it into the exam.
The result, well, it proved my point and made me pleased that I had postponed the exam as I got the prize for the best drawing, as well as the best results for the Diploma in Clock and Watch Servicing!
I had just one exam left to take before completing my MBHI, which was the advanced theory, although I aimed to go the full hog and take the additional exams get my FBHI title. In the end I again didn’t feel that I had enough time to complete the demanding portfolio of restoration (which involves making various parts, performing complex repairs as well as doing academic research for 5 watches), in the time available. So I just took the advanced theory exam in May 2015, and completed as much of the portfolio as I could, to hopefully finish in 2016.
It was a really difficult time to study for the advanced theory, as it felt like I was knocking my head against a wall with some of the topics. The booklets are, by the BHI’s own admission, old and outdated, and they proved to be almost impenetrable at times; with the feeling that you could only understand the topic if you already had some prior knowledge of it. But in the end I buckled down before the exam and passed. Surprisingly bagging myself another award in the process! This means I am now an accredited member of the BHI, which allows me to add the suffix MBHI to my name.
Working as a full-time watchmaker, I am always keen to improve my skills and learn new techniques. One of the things that I’ve started to really enjoy is polishing cases and bracelets, a service I provide to each customer. It’s really satisfying to turn something old and worn looking into something that looks brand new again. Often as a watchmaker the work you do is unseen by the customer, and so by refurbishing the outside visible parts of their watch, they are able to understand the care and attention you have taken with their timepiece.
I was also kindly invited to the official handover ceremony for English watchmaker Robert Loomes’ new Everest Watch. As a celebration of 200 years of service in the British Army, the Gurkhas of Nepal were going to climb mount Everest. In a mirror of the original conquest of the peak by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who carried the British made Smiths watch to the summit, Robert had been commissioned to provide a modern day British watch to make the journey; with some of the pieces due to be auctioned off to raise money for charity. Sadly due to the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, the climb did not take place, but hopefully there will be opportunity to make the journey at a later date. (Please see the Jan 2016 for an update).
I’ve also been keeping myself busy with other, non-watch related activities. Along with doing Latin dancing a few times a week, I have thrown myself in at the deep end and volunteered for a charity boxing event for September 2015. I’ve never done anything remotely like this, and so along with pushing myself far out of my comfort zone, I am also raising money for Cancer Research UK.
Update Sep 2015:
Update Jan 2016:
Robert Loomes has been in contact with regard to the expedition to climb Mount Everest in 2015. Although the climb did not reach the peak due to the conditions following the earthquake, they did however partially complete the climb and were able to put the watches through their paces. Robert writes:
“Whilst they did not summit, the team spend seventy days climbing in the Himalayas wearing our watches with temps down to -35 and to an altitude of 21,000ft. As Capt Dick Gale said when he returned them to the BHI (knowing the Smiths / Rolex history of the 1953 Hilary/Hunt expedition) “We carried your watches on Everest; they worked perfectly”