TAG Heuer The brain is a woman
In a largely male-dominated speciality, a woman stands out, leaving an impressive mark on her field. A movement creator and a developper, Carole Kasapi is all about innovating and thinking outside the box
Women are everywhere in watchmaking. They handle all sorts of operations, from polishing to assembling, from chronometry-setting to finishings. Yet there's a place where they're still the odd ones out : movement conception. There are exceptions to that rule and one of those is more than a mere inconsistency. Carole Foretier-Kasapi is one of the...let's say five most talented brains in contemporary watchmaking. She's to blame for some of the most groundbreaking and impressive movements of the past 15 years. More than a watchmaker or a creator, Carole Kasapi as she now names herself, is a purveyor of knowledge. « For a long while, I gave lessons at the Art School in La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the engraving curriculum. And I'm a long time juror in final exams of the Le Locle Watchmaking School. It's just normal. It's part of what I must give back to watchmaking.»
Carole Kasapi © TAG Heuer
Carole was born in Paris during the May 68 events. Her father was a self-taught watchmaker who established himself as a restorer. « My father was a strickler for detail, everything had to be perfect ! He used to burnish pivots for hours on end, that's the image of him I have as a child in his workshop. It took me a while to understand how important that was, even though it's such a thankless task. It shows a different relation to time. » That's how she grew up in a benzin atmosphere.
Aged 16, young Carole moves to La Chaux-de-Fonds. « My father told me « if you want to go to watchmaking school, it'll have to be in Switzerland ». That part was non-negotiable. » Watchmaking classes had just then reopened after having been shut down for many years, for lack of students... Reopened for just the two students, Carole and another girl...a harbinger of things to come much much later. «At the end of the fisrt four years, I realised that working at the bench (sigh), so I signed up for another two years to become a conceptor.»
Her working methods were already light years away from her peers'. « I'd asked for a dispensation in order to pass my exams on a computer rather than on paper. » She then enters a development consultancy, where she builds a slim, automatic, movement ordered by Zenith. It's the beginning of a long tally. She moves on to Renaud & Papi, the largely independant, high horology subsidiary of Audemars Piguet. After six years and having become their head of developement, she leaves to create a concept that'll end up being Ulysse Nardin's Freak. She briefly enters the brand and is called away by a man named Eric Klein. He's the head of movement creation for the Vendôme Group, which'll move on to become Richemont. He becomes her employer, and mentor. The man will later be in charge of creating a shared movement and component manufacture for Richemont, called ValFleurier.
During those years, Carole buys off-the-shelf and bespoke high-end movements, others she creates in-house, headed for Piaget, Panerai and Cartier. In 2005, she sets up the latter's movement development department from the ground up. Cartier is then on the verge of setting itself up as a seriously high watchmaking brand, based solely on Carole's creations. The brand starts launching this long series of the most memorable and innovative watches. Three-hands, chronograph, tourbillon, bi-axial tourbillon, groundbreaking tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, multi-complications, she ticks all the existing boxes and shapes up new ones.
Carole Kasapi © TAG Heuer
In 2017, Carole enters Richemont's centralised R&D lab, which she leaves in 2020. « I had to go back to working on products. Working on pure innovation keeps you away from that and I was missing it ». She's now head of movement strategy at TAG Heuer and her new brainchildren are eagerly awaited.
The thing with Carole, and anybody who met her will tell you the same, is that she's not just a watchmaking brain. She's an educator. To explain, time and time again, to her team, to journalists, to the public, be they savvy or inexperienced, is her brand. « I don't believe in solitary brains. I believe in enrichment by cross-content in everything I do. To be alone is to be poor. Multidisciplinarity is so much more enriching.»
Over 150 years of watchmaking savoir-faire and technical innovation have made TAG Heuer a global reference in avant-garde sports watches. As it tracked the rise of sports demanding increasingly precise timekeeping, TAG Heuer continually developed its unique capabilities through a long-term vision of what watchmaking is today, and what it will look like tomorrow.Find out more >
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