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The apprentice collector
Point of View

The apprentice collector

Thursday, 23 October 2014
Editor Image
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

It’s something we repeat over and over, to the point it has become almost a mantra: a fine watch contains not just mechanical perfection, beauty and the precious nature of the materials of which it is composed: it holds stories, loves and memories too. These are the self-same stories which day after day fuel the collector’s passion. Those who already possess watches worthy of interest and those who are making their first acquisitions, somewhat haphazardly. They are the collectors of tomorrow, and as such we must afford them particular attention by helping them recognise the stories and values that give fine watchmaking its full significance.

A recent adventure inspired me to consider how we can form a new generation of mindful collectors. A young friend came to me, and showed me the vintage watch on his wrist: a fine piece some thirty years old, in gold and with a classic design. (My apologies that I should refrain from naming the brand, I prefer not to be caught in a conflict of interests!). This friend had always seemed more interested in trends than value. He had purchased dozens of “fashionable” watches which he wore as accessories or gadgets. Never would he have considered investing in a fine watch. And never, as he himself confessed, a watch by that particular brand. But as always, great changes spring from great encounters. In his case, an encounter with an uncle, someone he appreciated and who had entrusted him with his watch as a keepsake. This man’s affection, the stories associated with the watch, and the particular moment this gift, this “handing over”, were made mean that my friend now owns a watch he would never have chosen, were it not for its sentimental value. This contact with a fine watch sparked in him the desire to learn more about this world by purchasing other contemporary pieces and encouraging him to assemble, little by little, his own collection.

Not an intrinsic value, perhaps, but one which also adds to the brand's intangible wealth.

Which brings me to this: when our Maisons curate exhibitions or other events that showcase their heritage; when they publish books retracing their history, this isn’t just marketing. They are spotlighting stories and bonds of affection of immense value. Not an intrinsic value, perhaps, but one which also adds to the brand’s intangible wealth and in doing so helps prompt sales of other timepieces. Timepieces which, one hopes, will become part of a collection that is still just a dream but already potentially significant.

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