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Meeting the industry at the Société Suisse de Chronométrie
Point of View

Meeting the industry at the Société Suisse de Chronométrie

Tuesday, 20 May 2008
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

“Thirty years in journalism are a powerful stimulant for curiosity”.

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5 min read

With its 1,100 members, the Société Suisse de Chronométrie is the branch’s largest professional association alongside the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Its purpose is to promote technical and scientific knowledge in the sector. Christophe Roulet met its President, Zian Kighelman.

Some 700 enthusiasts attended last year’s International Chronometry Convention in Colombier (Switzerland), a two-day event on the theme “Watchmaking and Automobiles.” The convention was also an opportunity to train the spotlight on the organiser, an institution in the trade yet little-known outside specialist circles : the Société Suisse de Chronométrie (SSC) which was founded in Geneva in 1924 and now boasts some 1,100 members. Zian Kighelman, in the chair of the rotating presidency until the end of the year, talks about the “Petits Déjeuners Horlogers”, the latest event to be scheduled by the SSC. These breakfasts, which take the form of lectures or more informal presentations, are intended as a way to share knowledge within the profession.

You recently launched a new initiative, the "Petits Déjeuners Horlogers." What are they in response to ?

The first “breakfast” was all about striking watches, which many see as the king of complications. We wanted it to be an informative get-together to which we invited people from the industry and others with an interest in this technology, including students and teachers from watchmaking schools. Until recently, the Société Suisse de Chronométrie was very much focused on the technical and scientific aspects of watchmaking. From there, we wanted to gradually open our horizons to include every profession in the industry, from design to logistics to the métiers d’art such as engraving. This is something I have worked hard at since taking over the chair in 2006.

We are, after all, just one big family, but whereas a few years ago everyone knew everyone else, today we feel there is a need for people to come together and talk about a profession they care so much about. The “Petits Déjeuners Horlogers” sprang from this. They must position the SSC and give our members a chance to meet and discuss themes which, while very much tailored to our profession, are nonetheless accessible. The aim is to shed light on the diversity of our activities.

These breakfasts aren’t the only events you organise ?

Indeed they aren’t. They complement our Study Days and the International Chronometry Conventions, which are the two major events we organise on an alternating basis each year. They’re also events that can be held in our four watchmaking regions. Put simply, the SSC aims to give all our professions a quality platform for exchange on watch science and technology. The next Study Day on September 17th will be about new materials and new technologies in watchmaking. We’ll also be organising a special event on the day. The next “Petit Déjeuner” will take place towards the end of the year.

You say watchmaking schools were invited to the breakfast. Does the SSC also support vocational training ?

We know full well that watchmaking’s future professions will be intimately linked to innovation and creation, not forgetting the ever-growing demands of after-sales service. On the other hand, we’ve seen how training in purely watchmaking subjects doesn’t appeal to young people. Another of our roles is therefore to show how training in many state-of-the-art fields can have applications in the watch sector. We must also support teachers and make training in watchmaking professions attractive to future generations. In this sense, the SSC has a role to play as a privileged link with industry, as the students who come to our events have every chance of meeting their future employer in the audience.

Is this something the SSC’s next President will carry on ?

Of course I can’t speak for my successor, but I can say that innovation will take on even more importance in the years to come, as manufacturers continue to develop cutting-edge tools. It’s also worth noting that centres of excellence that had turned their back on the industry, such as the University of Neuchâtel Institut de Microtechnique/Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (IMT/CSEM) or the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), are now turning to us again. Silicon, whose applications in watchmaking were developed with the IMT/CSEM, is a sufficiently eloquent example. Because the SSC represents all the watchmaking professions, I believe we also have a role to play in these future developments, thanks to our capacity for networking and exchange. This is where we need to show an open mind. It’s no coincidence that suppliers and the industry are more and more interested in using our platforms to present their expertise. For them, it’s a high-profile exercise.

How can the SSC’s past contribute to its activities today ?

There’s a lot we can draw on. We’ve put a great deal of energy into compiling a databank. The only one of its kind, it lists every SSC publication, the earliest of which date back to the 1930s, as well as articles of a scientific or technical nature published elsewhere, such as in Les Annales Françaises de Microtechnique et Chronométrie or the Jahrbuch der deutschen Gesellschaft für Chronometrie. Close to 5,000 specialist articles in all, available online to subscribers. And we’re still putting documents into digital form. This is a unique source of technical information and another good reason to get to know the SSC !

More informations on : www.ssc.ch

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