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Newsletter - The migrants of watchmaking, then and now.

Newsletter The migrants of watchmaking, then and now.

What is wrong with having some cultural and geographical diversity in the Swiss watch industry?

Like every year there are criticisms after the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, but I was astonished to read one of my peers suggesting, without any substantiation, that one way to “improve” the jury would be to have “fewer Anglo-Saxons” in it. Only two members of the 24-strong jury of the GPHG hail from the United Kingdom and their credentials speak for themselves. Furthermore, the activities of such “Anglo-Saxons” as Roger Smith and the very man who accepted the Aiguille d’Or on stage this year, Stephen Forsey, continue a long history of watchmaking born in the British Isles. Not only do these two gentlemen produce exquisite timepieces but they also take the trouble to preserve traditional techniques and pass on know-how to future generations. Is that not worthy of commendation?

“Jean-Claude Biver is a genius of the industry who rightly merits a biography”

Paul O'Neil

Numerous other countries have also played a role in the development of the Swiss watch industry and some of its major brands. At precisely 10am tomorrow morning, one of these will be highlighted with the launch of a new brand with an historic name. Discover it first on WorldTempus as our latest partner brand and, if you live in the Geneva area, head to La Potinière (next to the Horloge Fleurie) for 6.30pm tomorrow evening to see it for yourself at the public launch.

We also welcome another new partner with its roots outside Switzerland. Lebeau-Courally is based in Belgium and has a rich history in the manufacture of high-end hunting rifles. More recently the brand has branched out into watchmaking, which shares a number of parallels (not least in terminology) with the world of gun manufacture, and through the acquisition of IMH in Switzerland now has the capacity to produce its own manufacture movements.

The initiative for one of the world’s biggest charity watch auctions and the biggest single concentration of unique timepieces also came from outside Switzerland. The Only Watch auction, which was held in Geneva for the first time on Saturday, is the initiative of Monegasque Luc Pettavino. If you missed our live tweets from the event you can find the full results of the sale here.

Later this week your Anglo-Saxon editor-in-chief will head off to London for SalonQP (the watch exhibition in London set up by James Gurney, one of the two aforementioned Anglo-Saxon GPHG jury members), which opens its doors at the Saatchi Gallery on Thursday. His busy diary includes a meeting with another brand which upholds traditional watchmaking techniques but has its roots outside Switzerland. Urban Jürgensen presented its latest collection just last week in Copenhagen and I look forward to discussing the interesting history of this brand with its Danish CEO Søren Jenry Petersen.

Until next time, “Wes þū hāl” as the Anglo-Saxons say!

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