What’s behind the distinguishing parameters of Haute Horlogerie

Perpetuating the art and values of expert craftsmanship in the rapidly expanding watch industry is a daunting task. With millions of watches made every year and more names extending themselves into the “luxury” market, drawing the line between cream-of-the-crop creations and modestly manufactured brands becomes a blurry balancing act for even the most discerning watch aficionado.

The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie has made maintaining and distinguishing fine watchmaking its mission. The organization was founded by Franco Cologni, a noted figure in the watch industry who has worked with Cartier and other luxury brands such as Piaget and IWC. The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie employs strict standards for defining standouts among the current plethora of watch brands based on technical, aesthetic and cultural merit.

“Fine watchmaking brings a little extra soul to our contemporary world,” Cologni writes on the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie website. “This is our proud inheritance, and one that we intend to diffuse, strengthen and develop … time is an art …”

The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie employs a steering committee of curators, experts, collectors, entrepreneurs and journalists to evaluate watch brands yearly on parameters ranging from mechanical movements to the provision of “competent and quality after-sales service.” Sixty-two watch brands currently fall in the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie’s distinction.

Of these 62, those designated as “partner brands” hold most prestige, two of which include Jaeger-LeCoultre and Girard-Perregaux (examples shown here). Both brands offer fine mechanics, style and substance in their watches and embody the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie’s philosophies of lasting quality.

Ron Jackson, Girard-Perregaux president and CEO, recently visited Hawaii’s Ben Bridge Timeworks and spoke of the impact of fine watchmaking.

“Watches are really generational,” Jackson says. “A watch as a gift is such an emotional item. When someone gets a watch, they remember exactly when they get them. That’s powerful.”

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