Watch Technology Institute

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The AAS degree in Watch Technology is ideal for those students who have yet to graduate with a college degree.  The AAS degree, with its general education credits, may also benefit those students looking to enroll in a 4-year university program later in their educational journey.  The Certificate in Watch Technology is recommended for students who have previously earned a degree and/or are simply looking for a professional credential to start employment within the industry.

Unfortunately, WTI does not offer watchmaking courses online or part-time.  The cohort is a full-time commitment.  Students are in class Monday through Friday, approximately 40 hours per week. 

Those looking for online or part-time programs should consider the following:

WTI accepts an average of 10-12 students each year.  There are 3 instructors in the program; the student/faculty ratio fluctuates between 3:1 to 4:1. 

The program receives between 40-50 applications a year.  The acceptance rate averages around 22%. 

The program completion rate (graduating with an NSC-issued Certificate in Watch Technology or AAS degree in Watch Technology) is 91%.  The breakdown of NSC awards is 85% Certificate/15% AAS.  The majority of WTI students also test for third-party SAWTA certification; the SAWTA certification success rate is 86%. 

While a background in watch repair is helpful, it’s not a prerequisite for the program.  The curriculum is designed to take students without repair experience and train them to become skilled watchmakers.  The vast majority of incoming students have little/no prior experience with watches.  However, WTI students will share common traits such as strong hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and problem-solving skills.

Yes, WTI accepts international students.  NSC has an International Admissions team dedicated to helping international students.  Students will need to obtain a ctcLink ID number from them before starting the WTI application process. 

Yes, WTI accepts veteran students utilizing their VA educational benefits.  The most common situations are veterans attending on the Chapter 33 Post-9/11 GI Bill or Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation.  NSC has a Veterans Services office dedicated to helping veteran students; students can contact them to determine benefits eligibility.   

The online mechanical comprehension exam is a timed, multiple-choice exam testing understanding of certain concepts such as levers, gears, gravity, inertia, etc.  The bench test involves a series of written and practical tests.  The written covers math, analytical thinking/puzzles, and essay writing.  The practical covers filing/sawing of metal, fine wire manipulation, and movement disassembly/reassembly. 

Preparation or studying beforehand is neither required nor expected.  Instructors will provide demonstrations for the practical portion of the bench test and students are welcome to ask clarifying questions during the assessment. 

Once the bench test is complete, expect to receive a decision from WTI within 2 weeks.  Delays may occur if there is a particularly high number of applicants testing at the same time.  Holidays and breaks between quarters will delay response times. 

Yes, students may re-apply for the following year’s cohort. 

In order for an application to be approved, students must pass a minimum threshold score on both the online mechanical comprehension exam and bench test.  The results of these tests will be shared with students and feedback will be provided.  Applications are declined if students do not meet the threshold. 


Waitlists can occur when the cohort roster is full while applications are still being processed.  Another waitlist scenario is if a student scores very close to, but does not exceed, the threshold score.  Waitlist status may be given to these students if WTI expects open spots on the roster prior to the start of class.

The WTI curriculum focuses on the service and repair of modern watch movements.  The principal calibers are the ETA 6497-1/6498-1 (manual-wind), ETA 2824-2 (automatic), and ETA 7750 (automatic chronograph).  Students will also spend time with the ETA family (quartz), ETA 2892-A2 (automatic), ETA 2671 (automatic), and ETA 7751 (automatic chronograph, day/month/moonphase indicator).  At the discretion of the instructors, a selection of vintage and specialty movements may also be covered.

Manufacturing of tools and simple watch parts is a major component of students’ 1st year instruction.  Students will begin by learning how to use hand tools such as files and a jeweler’s saw.  This will then expand to turning on a watchmaking lathe.  Watch parts include bushings, set lever jumpers, yokes, and winding stems.  Tools include center punches, scribes, balance tacks, pocket watch winders, hand pushers, hand removing levers, and more.  More complicated projects exist for those students who demonstrate an aptitude for manufacturing.

The program curriculum is focused on repairs in the context of modern retail and service center workshops.  This means identifying problems, making movement adjustments, and replacing parts in a timely manner.  Restoration and conservation of timepieces is more specialized, requiring knowledge of various components’ manufacturing processes and a deference to historical accuracy.  Those interested in restoration and conservation are encouraged to contact the West Dean College of Arts & Conservation (UK).

The Swiss American Watchmakers Training Alliance (SAWTA) is an organization founded by Rolex Watch USA, Inc. to further the education of watchmakers in the United States.  SAWTA schools feature a standardized curriculum that trains students to a high level of watchmaking proficiency.  The main pillars of the SAWTA curriculum are micromechanics, watch movement service, case/bracelet refinishing, and retail application.  SAWTA is also a certifying body, awarding students who have demonstrated a mastery of the skills learned throughout their time in the program.  Graduates of SAWTA schools will find themselves well-equipped to directly enter the watchmaking industry for both retail and service center roles. 

To obtain a SAWTA certificate, students must graduate from a SAWTA program school and pass all related certification testing.  The testing comprises a series of exams; there are 3 intermediate exams and 1 final exam.  These are taken in progression during the students’ time within the program.  Each exam features timed written and practical components, both of which must receive passing scores to proceed.  Failure to pass an exam will result in the student being ineligible for SAWTA certification (they may still continue pursuing the NSC-issued award). 

The organizations behind all 3 certifications differ; SAWTA is supported by Rolex Watch USA,Inc., WOSTEP by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), and CW21 by the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute.  Each certification represents a level of proficiency specific to each organizations’ standards.  SAWTA and WOSTEP certifications are the result of testing done through formal educational programs; these school programs usually span 1-2 years.  CW21 testing is done at AWCI headquarters, with competencies acquired through individual classes or relevant work experience.  At a high level, the SAWTA curriculum differs from WOSTEP and CW21 by adding more focus to external components and retail-related tasks.  These include casing, pressure-testing, case/bracelet refinishing, estimating, and customer service. 

For 2022, the estimated cost of the Certificate in Watch Technology program is $19,537 for in-state residents, $22,147 for out-of-state residents, and $50,335 for international students.  For the AAS degree in Watch Technology, the estimated cost is $21,929 for in-state residents, $24,847 for out-of-state residents, and $56,473.28 for international students.  The program cost includes the required toolkit fee. 

Yes. To maintain a standardized level of instruction, all students are required to purchase the toolkit.  The $6,500 toolkit fee is split into two payments of $3,250 each.  These payments are part of the student’s first Fall quarter and Winter quarter costs.  The selection of tools is designed to cover students during both their 1st and 2nd year instruction.  Students keep the toolkit items once paid.  Many of the tools will continue to see use when the student enters the profession. 

To determine eligibility for financial aid, students should follow the instructions here from NSC’s Financial Aid office. 

There are two types of scholarship opportunities.  The first are those issued by the Seattle Colleges Foundation.  Many of these awards are specific to the watchmaking program and are thus exclusive to WTI students.  Students may also qualify for general awards based on needs or merit.  The second scholarship opportunity is through third-party industry organizations such as the AWCI and HSNY

Yes!  Instructors are able to provide tours virtually and in-person whenever class is in session.  Please contact WTI by e-mail to schedule a date and time for the tour.  Tours take approximately 30 minutes.  If you are unable to tour, there are a couple YouTube videos that provide a glimpse inside the classrooms (Seattle Colleges video – 2018 / iFixit visit – 2015).  For a more current take on what’s happening in the program, WTI is active on social media via Instagram and Facebook