I’m inclined to believe that human endeavour can have only limited scope without a vital spark to guide it. Anima in Latin, a “spiritual supplement” for Bergson, it gives form to realisations that have the power to transport us. It would also appear that two ingredients kindle this vital spark, and they are talent and passion. This did not escape the attention of my good friend Eugenio Zigliotto, a tireless horological journalist and founder of Orologi da Polso who in 2007 gathered together others who, like him, felt passionately about the measurement of time. His aim was to bring to fruition an idea that had been running through his mind, namely to distinguish the remarkable individuals at the heart of watchmaking today. Whether trailblazers in the markets, specialists in escapements, men of science, artists or pioneers in marketing, he believed that these professionals were entitled to recognition by their peers. His idea gave rise to the “Hommage au Talent” and “Hommage à la Passion” awards, each presented to an individual because watchmaking is first and foremost about men and women.
As part of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Cultural Council, to which I dare hope I bring some contribution, as did Eugenio in his day, I had many opportunities to discuss these awards, and their importance, with him. These questions have today found a natural outlet. Following my friend’s passing, the Foundation reprised these homages paid to talent and passion as his spiritual testament. Such an initiative was never intended as a tribute to the bonds between us, however strong. Rather, the Foundation is presenting these awards for the fourth consecutive year because they serve a just cause. They distinguish truly outstanding personalities. Men and women whose talent and passion have already made their mark on contemporary watchmaking. What could be more just than to pay them this tribute and these honours?
Inside the Cité du Temps in Geneva, a historical setting that lends itself perfectly to such a ceremony, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie this year distinguished the “passion” of Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, Co-President of Chopard who has reinstated the Maison as a genuine Manufacture. The Foundation also paid tribute to the “talent” of Anita Porchet, an enamel artist who has largely contributed to the revival of this prestigious art in watchmaking. That this award should go to a woman is a relatively rare occurrence in our profession and one that is worth mentioning. So why hide our delight? Join me in a rousing cry of “vive les femmes!”.