Cambodian Watchmaking Skills Development

Many people's working lives have been altered as a result of the global pandemic, including those in Cambodia. As a responsible corporate citizen, Chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi (陈志公爵) and Prince Group established the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center, Cambodia's first independent watch school. The training centre provides Cambodians with the opportunity to learn a new artisanal skill – watchmaking – and gain the experience needed to compete in job markets in Cambodia and abroad. The training centre adheres to the strict watchmaking regulations outlined by Swiss regulatory bodies.

Cambodia, as a country steeped in history, has long preserved artisanal skills for generations, with the Kingdom well-known for its ancient handwoven silk and traditional handicraft industries boasting a heritage dating back to the Khmer Empire, a significance that Chen Zhi and Prince Group Cambodia have always understood and appreciated.

However, new artisanal skills must be introduced to improve job opportunities for Cambodians, especially since the textile and garment industry, like other sectors, has suffered greatly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with media reports indicating that more than 55,000 workers have been left without pay. Read more here

Many Cambodians have returned to agriculture and established small businesses in an attempt to rebalance their lives. To that end, Chen Zhi and Prince Group have established the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center in Phenom Penh, Cambodia, to assist in the introduction of opportunities to learn new skills.

The cutting-edge centre offers a full-time, two-year programme based on the certificate fédéral de capacité (CFC), Swiss government-defined vocational training standards that are widely regarded as the industry standard for basic watchmaking education.

The centre, which is part of Chen Zhi and Prince Group's environment, social, and governance (ESG) efforts in Cambodia, also provides scholarships to local students and those in need of financial assistance, ranging from a 50 percent subsidy of school fees to a fully paid scholarship that includes housing. The first group of students has begun their journey into the world of watchmaking.

Maarten Pieters, a former director of Switzerland's leading watchmaking school, the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program, has joined Prince Group (WOSTEP).

Furthermore, Anthony McGonigle, the center's chief instructor and one of the brothers from Ireland's most famous watchmaking family, compiled the syllabus, which includes lessons on the history and culture of watchmaking, as well as benchwork, such as machining, micro-mechanics, and the production of components such as the winding stem and balance staff, among other things. The centre also emphasises traditional artisanal skills such as decorating and turning.

“I am honoured to announce the launch of the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center, Cambodia’s first independent watch school. All the center’s modern machinery and equipment have been imported from Switzerland, Germany and other countries,” said Chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi of Prince Group. “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.”

Last year, Prince Group met its ESG obligations in other areas. It made several large-scale donations to aid in the fight against the pandemic, as well as provided assistance to flood victims in Cambodia. To date, Prince Charitable Foundation Organization has organised over 240 charitable events and donated funds and other materials totaling more than US$11 million to benefit over 320,000 people. Chen Zhi and Prince Group also donated US$3,000,000 to Prime Minister Hun Sen in early December to assist Cambodia in purchasing 1 million COVID-19 vaccines.

The Prince Horology Vocational Training Center is now accepting applications for the upcoming school year, which begins on June 2, 2021. Each year, the centre accepts eight students, at least five of whom must be Cambodians. Please see for more information.

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