Bringing the Art of Swiss Watchmaking to Cambodia

Bringing the Art of Swiss Watchmaking to Cambodia

January 22, 2021

The Prince Group Chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi opens the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center, Cambodia’s first independent watchmaking school this month.

According to the Prince Group, the training centre aims to give Cambodians the opportunity to learn a new artisanal skill – watchmaking – and gain the necessary experience to help them in job markets in Cambodia and abroad. The training center claims it will follow the strict regulations for watchmaking outlined by regulatory bodies in Switzerland.

As a country steeped in history, Cambodia has long preserved artisanal skills for generations, with the Kingdom well-known for its ancient handwoven silk and traditional handicraft industries that boast a heritage dating back to the time of the Khmer Empire.

New artisanal skills, however, need to be introduced to improve job opportunities for Cambodians, especially as the textile and garment industry, much like other sectors, has suffered greatly due to the COVID-19 pandemic with media reports indicating that more than 55,000 workers have been stranded without an income.

Many Cambodians have returned to agriculture and small businesses in a bid to restore balance to their lives. To that end, Chen Zhi and Prince Group have launched the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center in Phenom Penh, Cambodia to help introduce opportunities to learn new skills.

The Centre says it offers a full-time, two-year course modelled on the certificate fédéral de capacité (CFC), standards for vocational training defined by the Swiss Government which is widely considered the industry norm for basic watchmaking education.

As a component of Chen Zhi and Prince Group’s environment, social and governance (ESG) endeavours in Cambodia, the Centre also says it will offer scholarships to local students and those requiring financial assistance, ranging from a 50% subsidy of the school fees to a fully paid scholarship that includes accommodation.

The first group of students have started their watchmaking journey.

To lead the curriculum, Prince Group says it hired world-leading watchmakers, including Maarten Pieters, a former Director of Switzerland’s leading watchmaking school, the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program (WOSTEP).

Furthermore, Anthony McGonigle, the Centre’s Chief Instructor and one of the brothers from Ireland’s most famous watchmaking family, compiled the syllabus, which encompasses lessons on the history and culture of watchmaking, as well as benchwork, including machining, micro-mechanics, and production of components like the winding stem and balance staff etc. The Centre also focuses on traditional artisanal skills like decoration and turning.

Commenting on the initiative, Prince Group Chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi

“I am honoured to announce the launch of the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center, Cambodia’s first independent watch school. All the centre’s modern machinery and equipment have been imported from Switzerland, Germany and other countries. We have also put together a world-class team to teach Cambodian and international students new skills that will make them competitive in job markets in Cambodia and abroad,” says Chen Zhi.

Last year, Prince Group claims it made several large-scale donations to help in the fight against the pandemic and assisted flood victims in Cambodia. The Prince Charitable Foundation Organization says its organized more than 240 charitable events and donated funds and other materials worth more than USD 11 million, benefitting more than 320,000 people. In early December 2019, the Prince Group donated USD 3,000,000 to Prime Minister Hun Sen to help Cambodia purchase one million COVID-19 vaccines.

(Ed. The Prince Horology Vocational Training Center is accepting applications for the next school year, which commences on June 2, 2021. For more details, click here. Prince Holding Group, aka Prince Group, is one of the largest corporate conglomerates in Cambodia, with businesses spanning across multiple industries, including real estate development, banking, finance, aviation, tourism, logistics, technology, food and beverages, and lifestyle sectors. Featured image by Pixabay.)