In the air Monday, July 9th 2012
The Latin word campus refers to a field or a plot of land. In certain acceptations, it also means a theatre, arena, or scope of activity. It differs from ager, agricultural land, in that it implies an area where something happens, the scene of often public events or which imply interaction between people.
This more expressive, less agricultural meaning is perhaps why, in the United States, campus refers to university grounds, specifically a landscaped setting for various buildings of importance to university life: libraries, halls of residence, playing fields, places to meet and study. Princeton University is said to be first to have adopted the term. Others quickly followed suit.
The campus is thus a hub of culture shared between different generations, students and professors, as well as tradition and innovation. Knowledge, culture and learning channel ideas towards the world of work and "real life" which, far from being separate from knowledge and understanding, is constantly linked to them.
Let us now consider the Campus Genevois de la Haute Horlogerie. This project is the result of innovative, visionary thinking and is apt to open up positive new horizons for work, within the limits, of course, of fine watchmaking and its professions.
Note that this isn't simply a training centre along the lines of those which every group and brand is now proud to have. This is a genuine campus where the culture of watchmaking will shine in multiple ways. The planned workshops for Roger Dubuis, Stern, Vacheron Constantin and Van Cleef & Arpels will no longer serve simply for manufacturing, but will become hotbeds of opportunities and learning for students who, on completing their training, can experience hands-on the world of work through internships. In other words, these workshops will be an integral part of a wider cultural complex promoting positive confrontations of ideas and knowledge, and where research and development will be in constant contact with the outside world.
This, then, will be a campus in the sense of a centre for cultural activity, be this the culture of work, the culture of research, or the culture of science. A campus open to arts and craftsmanship, to progress and an awareness of tradition as a vector for new discoveries. A campus that isn't a world apart but one possible world where fine watchmaking takes on a contemporary dimension and becomes a force for proposal. A world where knowledge will meet know-how, where learning will be put into practice, and culture applied to the extraordinarily complex product that is the technical and precious fine watch.
A world, a school, a job, not just for the brands who have made their workshops available but for the entire world of Swiss watchmaking excellence. This is a vital statement in favour of social responsibility, not in a selfishly exclusive way but as an opening into the wider territory of watchmaking.
This space can rightly call itself a campus as it will also be a centre for social life, first and foremost for these young people, but not only them. Other cultural activities will develop on the campus to form a centre of interest for the Geneva community and, why not, internationally.
Let me say it again: this is not just about training, but will also concern research and innovation using the appropriate means available on the campus, from the library to the cafeteria, from places to meet to event venues.
As a man of culture and President of the Cultural Committee of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, I am willing, alongside Fabienne Lupo, Chairwoman of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, to demonstrate my faith and commitment and actively contribute to this innovative initiative so that the "Campus" might make its mark.
A new and different mark in the world of watchmaking which sometimes seems closed in on itself. I see this as proof of a responsible attention paid to new generations who will bring life to the sometimes overly traditionalist world of fine watchmaking, and stimulate the curiosity, enjoyment and knowledge of those for whom this activity fulfils the need to measure time with beauty.
We shall see, and I am certain that we shall see wonders. ■