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Festina lente
Va'pensiero

Festina lente

Friday, 27 May 2016
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Franco Cologni
President of the FHH Cultural Council

“Talent demands effort, dedication and hours spent perfecting a gesture which, day by day, becomes a gift.”

An entrepreneur at heart, though a man of letters, Franco Cologni was quick to embark on a business career that would lead him to key roles within the Richemont Group.

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Fine Watchmaking has gone far on the principle that one should “make haste slowly”. So why change?

The illustration shows the printer’s mark of Aldo Manuzio (1449-1515), the first Venetian publisher, who chose the motto Festina lente (“Make haste slowly”) to describe his work. The dolphin symbolises speed while the anchor represents stability.

The polemic between Fine Watchmaking and connected watches, between watchmaking in general and technology in the widest sense, is becoming tedious to the point of grotesque. Must we really pursue the clientele of our foremost Maisons with promises of “smart” technology and connectivity? I can only repeat what I have written in the past: that beauty – and this encompasses authenticity and refinement – has all too often been sacrificed for the sake of novelty; a pointless sacrifice that will ultimately disserve whoever chooses this route.

New things age quickly; beautiful things don't.

If I may be so bold as to offer a word of advice to the Manufactures which, and rightly so, are seeking a breath of youthful air without losing their identity in the process, I would suggest they consider this incitation to “make haste slowly”. This was a hugely successful motto at the time of the Renaissance, and widely adopted by those who recognised tempestività (the art of doing the right thing at the right time, without hesitation but without undue precipitancy) as an essential key to success and satisfaction. My advice is thus that you should make haste, but that you should do so slowly; progress towards change, but at the appropriate, reasonable pace of someone who knows that beauty demands dedication and devotion; look to the future, but never sacrifice your identity or originality in the race to keep up with time that devours everything in its path. New things age quickly; beautiful things don’t. Those who devote their life to the measurement of time should recite this simple observation like a mantra.

We should therefore be in no hurry to leave behind a rich tradition.

Timeliness, harmony and equilibrium are precious qualities and ambitious objectives that we should relentlessly pursue. The history of Fine Watchmaking tells us that we can go far by “making haste slowly”, a value that is, as Horace would remind us, aere perennius, more lasting than bronze. We should therefore be in no hurry to leave behind a rich tradition which inspires our aptitude to do the right (and beautiful) things at the right time.

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