TRIED AND TESTED
simple movement together without making a mark or blemish on the minute components. Surprisingly, there are few systems for certifying that a brand has achieved haute horlogerie status. Perhaps the best known is the Hallmark of Geneva or the Geneva Seal. Only watches made in the Canton of Geneva are eligible, and they must meet specific criteria in technical construction and the finishing of the movement. The standard was recently modernised to include a functional component to rigorously test claims of performance, and testing was extended to the entire, cased-up watch (with the movement fitted), whereas it had previously applied to the movement alone. Given its geographical limit, only a handful of brands are eligible to apply for this certification.
The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) is working on a formal evaluation process to determine which brands fall within what it calls the perimeter of fine watchmaking. I’m honoured to be part of that exercise as a member of the FHH’S cultural council, a group of industry specialists brought together to contribute their expertise in various areas, including manufacturing, collecting, communications and sales, to name a few. The process itself and the results of the evaluation will be reported at a later date.
Haute horlogerie is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s watchmaking that transcends its industrial aspects, where the functional and technical components are imbued with historical craftsmanship. Examples of haute horlogerie are watches that can provoke an emotional response, and which transcend their mechanical and functional origins to become pieces of art.
THE LEVEL OF HANDFINISHING IS KEY IN DETERMINING HAUTE HORLOGERIE STATUS; MACHINES CAN’T REPLACE THE DEXTERITY OF THE HUMAN HAND OR YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AT THE WORKBENCH