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Why exhibitions matter
Exhibitions

Why exhibitions matter

Thursday, 10 November 2011
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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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3 min read

The exhibition which the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie organised in Moscow, in the splendid surroundings of the Kremlin, proved a tremendous success. This isn’t the first time an exhibition of watches has drawn in the crowds. Indeed, more and more exhibitions tour the world with the most beautiful, most precious timepieces, joining those which the Manufactures themselves organise so as to bring their legacy further into the public eye.

We can welcome this success, together with the interest these exhibitions elicit and the impression they make on visitors. They are instrumental in promoting the culture of Fine Watchmaking and its relationship not only with specialists but all those who appreciate and are intrigued by beautiful things.

This idea to stage themed exhibitions and have them travel to different venues developed alongside the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva. The SIHH is where business and culture find new ways to interact, where new projects form around the history of the exhibiting brands and their innovations, propositions and inventions. Visitors who are fascinated by newness and the promises the future holds are equally happy to linger over antiquities which have been exalted by time. These objects from a distant past provide inspiration for times to come.

This bridge between business and culture takes its value in part from its originality. All over the world, we are observing attempts to duplicate or at least rival the “recipe” for the SIHH. Many of these copies do more than just imitate the formula; they try to reproduce the concept, the environment and the impact. They disregard the knowledge that wisdom is the daughter of experience, as Leonardo da Vinci observed. Organisation is a skill which isn’t acquired overnight. More importantly, one cannot claim an association with Fine Watchmaking in the absence of those who make fine watches, from companies to craftsmen, distributors to ambassadors.

 

Is this an act of counterfeiting?

Not so very long ago, we saw photos of an event held many miles from Geneva which led us to ask ourselves, is this a pale imitation of an event that defies reproduction? Is this an act of counterfeiting? Has copyright been breached? We won’t go into detail, but we will give this reminder: when dealing in this particular sector, the rules must be the same for all: ethics, respect, precision, intelligence, honesty and safeguarding of companies and customers. Should some or all of these elements be found lacking, then the legitimacy of the event is in doubt.

In an environment such as Fine Watchmaking, there are many ways to be seen and heard. The most effective, however, is to consistently demonstrate the highest degree of honesty and quality. Including for events. Otherwise, we run the risk of doing something foolish. And as Coco Chanel said, “One can forgive anything except foolishness.”

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