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A White Paper on Fine Watchmaking
Connoisseur of watches

A White Paper on Fine Watchmaking

Tuesday, 25 April 2017
Press Release
3 min read

What precisely do we mean by Fine Watchmaking? This is a complex question which the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie set out to answer through a definition of this singular environment and the brands within it. The White Paper on Fine Watchmaking is the result of three years of work by the Foundation’s Cultural Council.

New York, April 26, 2017 – Fine Watchmaking, Bespoke Suiting, Haute Couture… these are labels we frequently use without being entirely sure what falls within their boundaries. The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) had a duty to establish the principles of Fine Watchmaking which governed its creation. It set about this task with honnesty and humility. The FHH tapped its Cultural Council of 46 independent, international experts from across all areas of the watch industry to undertake the challenge with impartiality. Working from the ground up, and entirely on a pro bono basis, they spent three years giving shape to this White Paper. The finished document presents a synthesis of their conclusions in the unifying spirit of the FHH, whose mission is to inform, train and recognise expertise in Fine Watchmaking.

In all, 86 brands were evaluated and 64 entered the Perimeter.

To summarise, this White Paper is the result of a methodological consideration of the notion of Fine Watchmaking and its defining values. It presents a clear definition and system of categorisation for all of the various players.

It lists the competencies and 7 areas of expertise of the brands (R&D and Production, Style and Design, History and DNA, Distribution and After-Sales Service, Collectors, Brand Image and Communication, Training), and specifies 28 objective and whenever possible, measurable criteria across each of these areas. Each brand is then evaluated against these criteria by the Cultural Council experts.

This evaluation then determines the contours of the select circle that is the Technical and Precious Fine Watchmaking Perimeter. Its members* are then aligned with one of the 4 categories that reflect the diversity of Fine Watchmaking: Historic Maisons, Contemporary Brands, Luxury Brands, and Artisan-Creators.

The White Paper on Fine Watchmaking
The White Paper on Fine Watchmaking

Historic Maisons: Watchmaking companies that perpetuate a tradition and a heritage.

Contemporary Brands: Brands which belong to the present day and are characteristic of modern times.

Luxury Brands: Multi-product luxury brands which invest in the art of technical and/or precious Fine Watchmaking with creativity, innovation and excellence.

Artisan-Creators: Independent watchmakers/creators who draw on specific expertise and who generally carry out the manufacturing, sale and after-sales service of their products.

In all, 86 brands were evaluated and 64 entered the Perimeter. This evaluation will be repeated every 2 to 3 years to stay current with developments in the industry.

This White Paper on Fine Watchmaking fills a longstanding void by offering a new level of clarity and structure amongst all players and ultimately delivering increased confidence and understanding to the end consumer.

Find out more here

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