Teaching the Art of Swiss Watchmaking


A Graduation Speech

This remarkable speech was given by Terrence Guerin, not “Inside LWT”, but at the 2015 graduation ceremony of the Watch Technology Institute at the North Seattle College on Friday, August 21.


Here we are. End of the line.

I’d like to thank everyone here in front of me, all the supporters, the friends, the family, the teachers; everyone who’s made our journey possible. We owe you one. I’d I like to ask that you all help me appropriately recognize and celebrate our little achievement here today.

I have to admit, I’m a little overwhelmed standing up here conceding that this is the end of the line. Everything changes from here on out. What we have come to know as the norm, what is currently routine, that all changes today. Some 2 years? Over 2000 hours? And this likely punctuates it. How it’s flown by.

Usually I try and open speeches with a personal story, or an allegory; I think today though the story is already well-tread. I think that the story is pretty well-known, at least to those of us in class. For those that don’t know, I have to say, the story of our class is about second chances, its new beginnings, and its about teamwork. I can tell you without a doubt that our class is composed of people striving for something better, some of us on our second, third, or fourth chances; that we’re a group of people running down a dream. We came from offices. We came from cubicles. We came from behind service counters and out of classrooms. We compromised and we left things behind. Yet we all were unified in chasing a pretty wild dream. Professional watchmaking. And we learned one of the most important lessons ever to be taught on the first day of class. We learned that, for our part, watchmaking is a team sport. Never have I been part of a more focused, determined, and driven group than these folks right here. I harken back to the initial ice-breaking assignment Elaine gave us, I might be paraphrasing: “here are watchmaking benches, I’d like them moved around. They might be heavy. Go.” We didn’t waste time. We got relatively organized, squared our shoulders, and got to task. I believe that is our theme. That’s our power. Forming plans, being set to task, accomplishing the job. Even if we fell down, and fall down we did– we assessed the damage, we planned, we practiced, and we got back at it. Hell, in this second year, Lazarus didn’t have any dirt on us. We kept rising, we kept ascending. And from here, right now, it looks like we’ve made it.

So, with that ascendance I. We. Have the privilege of thanking those who lead us, guided us, mentored us, taught us, and supported us. Teaching isn’t easy. I imagine it to be tough, occasionally thankless work, to mold people from scratch into competent watchmakers. Elaine, Eric, Zan, Dave, and Shawn- could I have you stand up for a second? I swear this won’t take a minute. All of you, you need to know that you are not taken for granted. This class must express our gratitude and our thanks. We owe you. We owe you because learn from you, in this tremendous program that you’ve made and kept running over how many years? We learn from your example and your experience. You taught us to treat our watches, tools, and fellow watchmakers with respect. You taught us to watch-make with intention and clarity, to see problems and to make solutions, to use microscopes and loupes to see with new eyes. I speak for all of us when I say that we are better watchmakers, better people, because we got the opportunity to be around you and to learn from you. We’ve been raised us up from the tourists we were to the professionals we are about to be. We are inspired, we’ve grown, and we learned from you all. And there is no underselling, no light way of saying how that is powerful. It may not seem it, but this program is changing lives. So, with that, on behalf of the 12 of us whose lives have been changed across the past 2 years, just, thank you, and a round of applause, please.

A second battery of thanks goes out to Herman, Joe, and SAWTA. Your effort, labor, assessment and investment have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you for supporting us. An additional round of applause, please.

Alright, well. We take stock of this, we say thanks, what is there left to do? To quote Dame Vera Lynn and say “we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

No, I think it would be best that I offer an original watchmaking haiku from our resident philosopher-poet and watchmaker Darren Yomogida:

“Find balance in life

When all the world seems askew,

Dynamic poising.”