They would both go on to attend Beckenham Technical School, with Goldsmith being a year above Pratt. After graduating in 1953, Pratt would take up an apprenticeship at Smiths Industries, and later in 1956 he would start a course at the National College of Horology. This was designed to be a three-year course, where students would complete a full pocket watch in their final year. However, this program was scrapped halfway through Pratt’s course, causing him to leave early despite being an award-winning student up until that point. “He saw it as a betrayal,” says Timothy Treffry, a long-time friend of Pratt’s and former editor of the Horological Journal. From very early on, Pratt had a clear vision of what he wanted to do and his interests that would direct his later work were there for all to see.
According to the memorial written by Goldsmith in the BHI book Derek Pratt – Watchmaker, the two of them founded a company together in 1960 called Pratt and Goldsmith. They produced small, precise parts for other companies, meaning they got to do what they enjoyed most, while earning a bit of money at the same time.
The year that Pratt left his watchmaking course was the last for the National College of Horology, as they closed down shortly after. This meant that Pratt was able to start working for Andrew Fell, the college’s former director. These two would work on the clocks inside black boxes among other micro-engineering projects together. They would go on to work on micro-soldering projects that were being fuelled by the growing field of micro-electronics. This work would see Pratt emigrate to Switzerland, where he would settle with his first wife Franziska.