Swiss time must always remain… Swiss

Swiss fine watchmaking is not an industry. It is Art. It is a living legendary heritage entrusted to us by generations of incredible genius talents who crafted and innovated timekeeping with so many incredible interpretations and creations of time and timepieces.

By Vasken Chokarian

Going back in history, we will all discover that there was no such thing as a certain “department” or an internal party within a timepiece manufacturing setup, which dictates the influence and the directions of the development and innovation of new products. Timepieces back then were made by watchmakers who had the talent and skills to bring out the best of their imagination into decent end results that satisfied the demands of their clients. In theory, watch manufacturers whether they are independent or an established brand, they were led by either the demands of their potential clientele, or simply by the inner-passion of the watchmakers and craftsmen who had the freedom to express their talent and in doing so empower their way to the huge list of innovations that the world now is enjoying and repetitively still utilizing. The only pressure that the likes of Giovanni de Dondi, Jean Toutin, Christian Huygens, Thomas Mudge, Jean-Antoine Lepine (just a few to mention) have had, came from within themselves and the self-imposed challenges they had to face to ensure their talents and dreams CAN become a reality.

There was no such “marketing” enforcer that stipulates their plans! In fact, it was thanks to those same freely-laid plans that the watchmaking world today enjoys astronomical clocks, spiral balance springs, minute repeaters, enamel paintings on dials, tourbillons, lever escapements and the list goes on and on… Of course the time factor then involving many aspects of the industry and markets is completely different than nowadays, however, the core point must remain in supreme clarity: financial end results, though quite essential, must not empower wills trying to eliminate or replace (to be more positive) the massive role that is still expected from the multiple skills and talents of our today’s watchmakers.

Every industry has its ups and downs. Every century has its heroes and zeros. Every market has its good and bad. But that does not mean whenever things don’t go your way, you must hurry to press the panic button. In fact, we all probably need a reminder that facts and figures represent reality because we ourselves wanted them to be there in the first place. No one in this world is capable to “tell” you to take step 2 and then 3 (after your first step) except you yourself. The rays of the sun come up in the morning for a reason, but so is the case when those same rays produce a sunset too! Statistics and charts will always be there to show what did this or that industry do last year and then compare those with the current year; however, the key factor is – and this is a real turning point – when those statistics become the basic figures for future planning totally omitting the accountability of the global economic and industry outlooks, be it positive or negative, an emphatic fact that is quite vital and sometimes misleading particularly when markets are on the up and everybody wants to jump on the wagon trying to get their hands on as big a slice as they can.

There have been many theories and change of strategies that took place inside various global markets during the past 7 or 8 years that, in my opinion, have not necessarily contributed to the progress of the industry. I always believed in the simple reality where, in any business and industry, each contributing party enjoys the expertise of their own field and, by combining all those collaborative efforts of all parties concerned, the eventual expectations could be guided successfully to their final destination and the rewards of their contribution. Optimism, drive, enthusiasm and strength are all vital elements into any business to sustain positive durable presence, however those should not be blinded by ideas and plans that encourage short-cuts, and promote the removal of those collaborations and partnerships that history has been witnessing the successful achievements crafted by them, be it morally or in volumes, facts and figures. We all know that when you’ve got a winning team, when you’ve been enjoying a successful partnership, when your history has led you to a great working formula, you do not change it. You may want to capitalize on it, to improve it and keep it in tact with today’s markets requirements and demands but… you do not replace a winner! Industries these days already have enough worries to live by the outcome of political and economic outlooks, particularly when markets have fast become globally connected, therefore maintaining concrete collaborations with healthy and proven partnerships – who not to forget mentioning are also masters of their own market environment - is not only vital but also an encouraging investment on future research and development.

Fine watchmaking, Swiss fine watchmaking is not an industry. It is Art. It is a living legendary heritage entrusted to us by generations of incredible genius talents who crafted and innovated timekeeping with so many incredible interpretations and creations of time and timepieces. Those generations include huge names, personalities of giant magnitude and role in defining the future of timekeeping, the future that we live today. Those generations inherited us the Swiss time, its making skills and its many rich innovations trusting us to keep it within its high standards and passing it on to future generations to come. Whatever the reason, whether a possibly unfortunate victim to what I mentioned here before or otherwise, wise judgment and more importantly prime respect are in utmost need and on demand here to persevere in preserving the Swiss fine watchmaking within its own heritage, vision and identity. In a word, Swiss watchmaking must always remain Swiss.

As an enclosure, a small note gently sent from me to all those involved in the Swiss fine watchmaking: “With huge abilities come huge responsibility. Art, talent and education breathe through freedom of expression which, in itself, contributes to the birth of a responsible state of mind leading creative imagination into realization.”