Since the 1980s, technologically sophisticated watches in the prestigious luxury goods segment have experienced growing success. But there’s a downside to this increase in strength. You would be forgiven for believing that independent watchmakers are now an endangered species of craftsman, as today’s communications campaigns are more inclined to think in terms of “products” than to highlight the artistic and creative part of the equation.
Happily, the reality is quite the opposite. While they appear relatively infrequently in advertisements published in luxury magazines, craftsmen are nonetheless more active than ever. In a watchmaking world driven by increasingly global communication, they play the role of “Guardians of Knowledge”: together, they strive to take the art of watchmaking to its pinnacle and keep it well above passing trends.
The main observations
Concerned about the downward spiral affecting the very image of their profession and therefore its future development, a decade ago a handful of independent watchmakers came to an alarming conclusion. They observed:
- A significant loss of traditional watchmaking expertise.
- The increasing scarcity of specialised training programmes.
- The worrying disappearance of a highly qualified workforce.
- A lack of recognition of the art of watchmaking and watchmaking excellence.
There appeared to be an urgent need to place the master watchmaker back at the centre of the activity and reaffirm the values that form the artistic side of his craft. In an alliance open to craftsmen the world over, this small group of watchmakers, all of whom are independent – and very much alive! – decided to join forces to form the Time Æeon Foundation. Their aim is to develop and communicate their art from an ethical perspective, focussing on solidarity and passing on to new generations the craftsmanship that lies at the heart of watchmaking excellence.
Together, they develop and defend a charter that defines the technical and ethical aspects of an approach to watchmaking practised as an art in its own right.
In short, they have set themselves the task of continuing collectively the work that they had begun
Preserving the art of contemporary watchmaking
Through the tenacity, personal commitment and visionary spirit that drives them, these watchmakers are the custodians of true craftsmanship that is both traditional and cutting-edge. Their honest, noncommercial approach grants wider audience access to this magnificent world. They are also convinced that an association such as this will have a highly beneficial domino effect on all watchmaking
The foundation’s objectives
The programme’s aims are therefore to:
- Index and catalogue endangered crafts.
- Preserve the crafts associated with watchmaking excellence and help pass them on to new generations.
- Help protect the world’s watchmaking heritage.
- Inspire people to take up watchmaking as a profession.
- Support the training of future independent watchmakers wishing to promote watchmaking excellence.