News Thursday, September 13th 2012
On 20 September, watchmaking’s Nobel Prize, the Gaia Awards, will honour personalities who have contributed to the development of watchmaking in the fields of craft/design, history/research and entrepreneurship.
Presented by the International Museum of Watchmaking (MIH) since 1993, these awards were created as a tribute to one of the first patrons of the MIH, Maurice Ditesheim, who at the time was President of the Board of the Precious Metals Control Office. It was under his impulse in particular that the only international watch museum saw the light of day, both financially and thanks to his privileged relations with influential circles of the time. To him also is attributed the saying “Man and time”, which has become the museum’s underlying theme.
From the outset, the aim of the Gaia Awards has been to honour three personalities from different backgrounds whose work has allowed the distribution, study and creation of watchmaking art. This new distinction was straightaway named “The Gaia Awards” (in ancient Greek, Gaia means the earth and is also the name of the divinity that symbolises it). The trophy presented to laureates, represented by a translucent acrylic globe, is the work of a young artist, Valérie Salvisberg.
For almost two decades, the Gaia Awards have paid tribute each autumn to new designers, historians, writers or researchers who have stood out, each in their respective fields, by their efforts to promote watchmaking. Each year the MIH asks former laureates, the Committee of Friends of the Museum, the Commission and Scientific Council of the MIH, as well as the Maurice Favre Foundation, to submit nominations. Chaired by Ludwig Oechslin, curator of the MIH, these applications are sorted according to specific categories (History and Research, Craft and Design, Entrepreneurship) and validated. To be ratified, an application must describe in detail the career of the future candidate so that the jury can make its decisions with full knowledge of the facts.
Every year, jury members are invited by the curator of the MIH to accept a one year mandate, which is renewable. The jury comprises Swiss and foreign personalities and includes experts from the University of Neuchâtel, the Haute Ecole Arc, the Centre intercommunal de formation des Montagnes neuchâteloises and personalities from different horizons (culture, journalism, science and economics). Members of the 2012 jury included: François Aubert (Musée d’horlogerie du Locle, Château des Monts), Jean-Pierre Brügger (general director of the CIFOM), Daniel Droz (L’Impartial and L’Express), Frank Ineichen (Auktionshaus Ineichen), Gaetano Mileti (Laboratoire Temps-Fréquence, University of Neuchâtel), Marc Pfister (CIFOM - Ecole d’arts appliqués),Yvan Teres (Haute Ecole Arc Ingénierie), Massimo Monti (Haute Ecole Arc Ingénierie), Janine Vuilleumier (FH), Nicole Bosshart (MIH) and, of course, Ludwig Oechslin. ■
Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH
Article published in FH Revue