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Editorial - Sign of the Times

Editorial Sign of the Times

The message was received loud and clear from two major awardees at the GPHG 2019.

At the time of my writing this, we are right on the edge of a fun-filled weekend of auctions and high-octane sales that will doubtlessly create quantities of headlines and records. As I write, everything is a possibility and nothing is set in stone. By the time you read this, however, the numbers will have all come in, the lots will all have been sold (or not), and things in Geneva will have gone back to their usual rhythm — more or less.


Two things that really stood out from the prize ceremony evening of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève last Friday were the final two awards, the Special Jury Prize and the Grand Prix de l’Aiguille d’Or. The former was awarded to Luc Pettavino, founder of Only Watch. In his eloquent introduction of Luc, president of the GPHG jury Aurel Bacs emphasised the unique role of Only Watch in bringing the industry together in what can often be a highly competitive environment.

Sign of the Times

Luc Pettavino © GPHG/Miguel Bueno

The standing ovation that accompanied the announcement of Luc’s name only underscored Aurel’s point. Only Watch may come in the format of a glamorous, luxury auction, but the extremely personal and emotional motive behind it — the drive to preserve and protect the things we love — can be shared by everyone in the industry.

The acceptance speech of François-Henry Bennahmias, CEO of Audemars Piguet, the recipient of the Aiguille d’Or prize, also carried a central message of solidarity and support. I’ve been on the jury of the GPHG for three years, and this is the first time I’ve seen such an urgent and heartfelt message promulgated by, not just one, but two of the evening’s most prestigious prize recipients. 

Sign of the Times

François-Henry Bennahmias © GPHG/Miguel Bueno

It’s been a tumultuous few years for fine watchmaking. Economic disruptions, from Brexit-related woes to the current political issues in Hong Kong, have not been kind to sales. There have been a slew of knock-on effects — brand closures, reorganisation of trade fairs, an accelerated move towards digital solutions. It may seem too simple; that the answer to all our problems is to work together openly instead of working against each other, collaborating instead of competing. But just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.

In that sense, perhaps the writing is on the wall, telling us the best way to move forwards. But is anyone reading it? And will anyone follow?

Lecture 1 Comment(s)

11 November 2019
Anthony Schwab
Chère Madame Wong, nous percevons cette problématique depuis plusieurs années et nous nous regroupons pour réaliser des produits toujours plus beaux et accessible ! Merci pour ce bel article!

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