Chen Zhi and Prince Group Bring the Art of Swiss Watchmaking to Cambodia
BEIJING, CHINA – Media OutReach – 20 January 2021 – The global pandemic has changed the working lives of many people across the world, including in Cambodia. Chairman Neak Oknha Chen Zhi (陳志公爵) and Prince Group, being a responsible corporate citizen, have opened the Prince Horology Vocational Training Center, Cambodia’s first independent watch school. The training center gives 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 follows 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, a significance that Chen Zhi and Prince Group have always understood and appreciated.
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 setup 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 state-of-the-art center offers a full-time, two-year course modelled on the certificate fédéral de capacité (CFC), standards for vocational training defined by the Swiss government that are 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 center also offers 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.
Prince Group has 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 center’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 center also focuses on traditional artisanal skills like decoration 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 lived up to its ESG responsibilities in other fields. It made several large-scale donations to help in the fight against the pandemic and assisted flood victims in Cambodia. Till date, Prince Charitable Foundation Organization has organized more than 240 charitable events and donated funds and other materials worth more than US$11 million, benefitting more than 320,000 people. In early December, Chen Zhi and Prince Group donated US$3,000,000 to Prime Minister Hun Sen to help Cambodia purchase 1 million COVID-19 vaccines as well.
The Prince Horology Vocational Training Center is accepting applications for the next school year that will begin on June 2, 2021. The center accepts eight students — at least five of whom will be Cambodians — each year. For more details, please visit https://princehorology.com/.
 Cambodia’s uncertain economic rebound in 2021, East Asia Forum feature series on 2020 in review (link)
About Neak Oknha Chen Zhi
Neak Oknha Chen Zhi of Cambodia is the chairman of Prince Group, short for Prince Holding Group. As chairman, Chen Zhi has turned Prince Group into a leading conglomerate in Cambodia that adheres to international standards, invests in the future of the Kingdom and is committed to sustainable business practices.
In Cambodia, Chen Zhi has expanded Prince Group’s business operations to encompass various sectors, such as real estate development, banking, finance and tourism. Aside from his business activities, Chen Zhi actively engages in helping Cambodian communities with his philanthropy work.
About Prince Holding Group
Prince Holding Group, better known as 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. Prince Group adheres to its mission of “Building a Better Life” and the Group’s philosophy espouses the values of “Commitment, Responsibility, Respect, Generosity and Innovation”.