(Press Release) NEW YORK – The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative (VWMI) officially opened its doors on Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Odessa, Delaware, welcoming its first students. As a proud Founding Sponsor, Bulova pledged funds to support the program at VWMI. Bulova Historian Carl Rosen announced Bulova’s donation during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new facility.
The mission of the VWMI is to give disabled veterans, whose unemployment rate is 82 percent, the opportunity to rebuild their lives by learning the lucrative skills of mechanical watchmaking at no cost to them, while simultaneously supplying an understaffed profession with well-trained new experts.
Established through the vision and dedication of Sam Cannan, a retired Baltimore police officer and Swiss-trained master watchmaker, VWMI was inspired by a post-WWII program at Bulova which trained disabled veterans. Founded by Arde Bulova in 1945, the Joseph Bulova School opened in 1946 and operated for several decades before it was phased out in the 1980s when electronic watches became popular. Since then a new demand for mechanical watches has resulted in a shortage of watchmakers.
“Bulova is proud to make this contribution the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative for several reasons,” remarked Robert Christiano, Executive Vice President, Global Marketing. “By supporting the needs of men and women who have personally sacrificed to protect our nation, VWMI reprises a worthy program from Bulova’s past. And it will provide the new technical experts we need to keep our industry strong and moving forward.”
VWMI is located at 307 6th St. in Odessa, in a rehabbed former EMT building, which Cannan leases from New Castle County for $1 a year. For more information on this unique new school, or to make a tax deductible contribution, visit www.veteranswatchmakerinitiative.org.