Barely a week or even a day goes by without news from free-falling stock markets that leaves investors reeling. What impact will this credit crunch have on business? How will consumers in the main markets react, knowing that consumption accounts for more than half the main economies’ GDP? This has been a pretty much unexpected slap in the face, and these are the questions everyone is now asking… including the luxury sector. Scheduled before events caught up with the developed economies, the forum which the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie is organising for the CEOs of the brands within its perimeter could not come at a better time.
After five golden years, this may prove to be a harder landing than expected just months ago.
“Were we to look at the depressed state of the financial markets, it would be easy to infer the end of a model that is leaving numerous companies and jobs by the wayside,” observes Franco Cologni when presenting the Forum. “Similarly, we can no longer afford not to reflect on the future of the luxury industry in general, and of watchmaking in particular. The world map of wealth creation is being transformed; affluent populations are leaning towards new values; the global economy is struggling. After five golden years, this may prove to be a harder landing than expected just months ago.”
This first Forum, exclusively for the CEOs of Fine Watch companies, has been conceived as a platform from which to debate and share ideas on the theme “the changing business of time.” “We are organising this meeting with the aim of defining the new contours of the luxury business in a world that is now subject to the law of change. Machiavel wrote that had a man changed his conduct with the times, his fortunes would not have changed. What will this new conduct be?” Franco Cologni asks. This day of reflection, to be held at the World Economic Forum and which coincides with the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, will explore the new directions to be taken by an industry, one of whose main characteristics is to have always sparked aspirations and dreams. Who better than the FHH to “take on” such a task, given its vocation to promote and safeguard the unique values of Fine Watchmaking, a world that masters time and which has Switzerland at its centre.
Given the Forum’s objective to expand horizons, participants will also come from areas outside watchmaking. Gilles Lipovetsky, philosopher and sociologist, Thierry Lombard, managing partner of Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie private bank, François Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe, Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, Chris Sanderson of The Future Laboratory, London, and Gillian de Bono, editor of the Financial Times How to spend it supplement, will share their experiences, and debate alongside Jean-Christophe Babin (Tag Heuer), Jean-Claude Biver (Hublot), Jérôme Lambert (Jaeger-LeCoultre), Richard Mille and Juan Carlos Torres (Vacheron Constantin). With this first Forum, the FHH is proposing what could well be a timely and essential initiative.