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Making the difference
Point of View

Making the difference

Friday, 24 September 2010
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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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2 min read
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Unsurprisingly, my last “In the Air” on the Fine Watchmaking Manifesto sparked quite a reaction. As in all things meteorological, favourable and cross winds blew, though fortunately without serious turbulence. It’s never a bad thing to let in some fresh air.

A few extra words may not go amiss. The first part of the manifesto highlights the product, that is the watch. So far, so good.

The product, however, can be large, medium or small. Not that we must all don geometer’s hats and measure everything in sight; simply that the watch, like all other things, occupies a position in space. This is a physical space, of course, and a metaphorical one too. Is the altimeter now obsolete? If so, then we’ll use another criterion, for in a case such as ours, positioning can never be defined by quantitative references such as price or number alone.

The rule is to always reason in terms of quality, in which instance we can refer to multiple criteria, all of which can ultimately be reduced to the notion of value.

Monetary value? Sentimental value? Investment value? Let us not impose limits on Divine Providence, as they say at the Vatican, and accept every shade of meaning. Value, the dictionary tells us, is not only “the intellectual and moral qualities or professional abilities that make an individual worthy of esteem,” but also “the extent of the subjective and objective point of view.”

This is what matters: objectivity and subjectivity, or in Einstein’s book, relativity.

To come back to watches, our evaluation comes down to three criteria: the capacity to invent (innovation, technology, design), authenticity and originality. In a word: difference.

Not everyone will have the same conception of what this difference entails. The customer can afford more importance to one value than another and in watchmaking, their judgement is always final.

The product is therefore the key. Cast your minds back to the Coca Cola ads proclaiming the product was “the real thing.” Tangible. Concrete. Objective.

A thing that comes crowned with a brand.

A word of caution though: a brand without the aforementioned product is no more than a label. A renowned label, perhaps, but a label all the same.

I shall return to the question of the brand when the next In the Air is blown in on the wind.

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