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Perfect Timing! The Art of Horology

Renee Minus White | 4/12/2011, 4:40 p.m.
Nkiru America and sponsor Audi USA announced their Art of Horology Project on November 5...
Actor Malik Yoba and watchmaker Steven Richardson at The Art of Horlogy event held the Carriage House in NYC.

Nkiru America and sponsor Audi USA announced their Art of Horology Project on November 5 at a fundraiser hosted by actor Malik Yoba at the Carriage House for the Arts on East 38th Street in NYC. The program is organized and produced by watchmaker Steven Richardson, founder of Nkiru America Watches.

The Art of Horology Project is designed to teach children and young adults the art, science and history of horology (the study of timekeeping) at the Gabarron Foundation, Carriage House for the Arts. Danny Simmons, the interim chair of New York State Council of the Arts and vice chairman of the Rush Philanthropic Foundation, was honored for his dedication to the art world, his philanthropic efforts and for being a visionary.

Nkiru is Nigerian and means "looking ahead." It represents Richardson's vision to sustain his craft by exposing young people to the world of horology.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Richardson decided to become a watchmaker in 2000. His father is an auto mechanic, specializing in restoring transmissions. Steven inherited the same love for fixing things and putting things back together. In 1999, he was drawn by the movement of his pocket watch. He attended school for gemology in Brazil for two years. In New York, Richardson apprenticed at Master Watchmaker and opened his own business in 2002. Depending on the design details, it can take him approximately two to three weeks or from six to 12 months to make a watch. Today, he creates about 50 timepieces a year. Prices start at $1,200.

The project's mission is to foster widespread passion for the artistry of watch making among dedicated young adults through workshops.

Currently, there are fewer than 5,000 trained timepiece technicians in the U.S., and the number continues to dwindle. However, following the mechanical timepiece boom that started in the 1990s, the need for skilled craftsman capable to design build, repair and maintain these unique watches remains prevalent in today's market.

In collaboration with the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA, Nkiru has developed a 10-week introductory level workshop. It's free, and Richardson's goal is to take the program into the public school system. Presently, there is a class in session. Register at the Y for the next class, which will begin in January 2010. For more details, contact www.nkiruamerica.org.

"Our mentoring partnership will provide a meaningful educational, recreational and developmental opportunity for our students, regardless of their future career goals," said Richardson.

The class will not only provide youngsters with insight into the art form, but its relevance to many other careers. It encourages a focus on paying attention to creativity and skillfulness, which are the necessary building blocks for everything from engineering and architecture to design and music. Extra-curricular workshops like the Art of Horology can help student achieve their goals.