In Paris for Belles Montres International Prestige Watch Fair, Vianney Halter talks about his work over the past few years.
It was a wonderful surprise, and totally unexpected. This award is all the more special as it isn’t something you enter; the decision comes entirely from the judges. I didn’t even know I was in the running. I see it as an acknowledgement of everything I’ve achieved, given that I haven’t really produced anything new this year.
Watchmaking went through a difficult period between autumn 2008 to late 2009, and this affected the pace of activity. Production slowed and I had to trim the sails to avoid taking on debt. The silver lining is that I was able to free time for new projects; time you just don’t have when you’re racing to keep up production. I did have to redefine activity to offset the slowdown in demand, both at brand level and in dealings with other companies that require specific elements for their production. There’s no denying that the market has been inundated these past few years, and too much supply is bad for supply. Too many products undermines the value of those products.
I had a vision of what the Antiqua should be and the dynamic just clicked. It has become a classic based on what I intended to be a timeless design. The Antiqua still strikes people as something new, hence it still sells despite the fact it’s no longer such an “odd man out” among today’s designs. The reason being that the watch-buying public now expects extravagant watches to put on their wrist, year after year. To come back to your question, I’m as motivated now as ever, in fact I have a new watch in the pipeline for 2012. It’s actually something I’ve been working on for quite a while, the difference being that this time I decided to finish it and be ready for production before making any announcements, rather than vice versa. I’m tired of all this “cart before the horse” system of presenting products before they’re ready. Hopefully the Best Watchmaker prize will contribute to this new watch’s success. So yes, my frame of mind today is the same one that prompted me to make the Antiqua: a watch that took time, with minimum resources, and was definitely outside the box.
While this watch does reflect a more commercial approach, everything about it corresponds to who I am and what I like to do. I wanted to make a watch that would be within more people’s means because, until now, my watches have been too far out of most people’s league. There can never be any question of robbing the customer. The product has to be worth the amount spent on it.