The who’s who of haute horlogerie assembled on 8th November for the 11th edition of the prestigious FHH Forum, hosted by the Fondation Haute Horlogerie at the Maison de la Paix. Under the intriguing theme “Horology Futurology”, over 200 industry leaders, experts, and stakeholders gathered to discuss the future sustainability and adaptability of luxury watchmaking.
The insightful day commenced with welcoming speeches from Delphine Bachmann, State Councilor of the Canton of Geneva, Sami Kanaan, Member of the Executive Council of the City of Geneva, and Pascal Ravessoud, Vice-President of the FHH. Their words emphasized the FHH’s commitment to steering the industry through current and emerging challenges.
Setting the stage for thoughtful debate, keynote speakers Professor Ian Goldin of Oxford University and Virginie Raisson of IPCC Pays-de-la-Loire captivated attendees with their meticulous analysis of “The World of Tomorrow: Macro Trends and Perspectives.” Their eye-opening presentations highlighted the growing impact of external factors on watchmaking’s future, from climate change to geopolitics.
Notable sessions moderated by journalist Olivia Kinghorst provocatively tackled managing tensions between individual freedoms and the common good. Drawing on historical context, Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, President of the International New York Times, facilitated a lively Q&A on this complex balancing act. A later session dug into strengthening human-nature connections, with Bruno David, former director of the National Museum of Natural History, making an impassioned case for an educational revolution.
Gaining steam, discussions shifted to the watch industry itself. Karine Szegedi of Deloitte unveiled the consulting firm’s detailed study on emerging consumer trends. Her fascinating results highlighted the rising importance of India as a market and the shifting priorities of newer generations. Austen Chu, Founder and CEO of Wristcheck said, “The reason for an offline physical location for our business model even though we’re in the secondary space is different from 90% in the secondary space because we are consignment only. We have over 2000 watches consigned to us and inventory valued over USD 120 billion. This was majorly for sellers only. The other reason was that our customers are very young.” A star-studded panel including Diana Derval of DervalResearch then decoded watch buyer motivations and aspirations.
Guido Terreni, CEO of Parmigiani Fleurier also added his thoughts on watch buyer motivations and aspirations. He said, “The highest price bracket in Swiss watch exports is above 50,000 CHF. 20 years ago, watches above 9000 CHF were only half a million. Today there are over 2 million pieces and 77% of the Swiss export value.”
As a final act, experts Anne-Sophie Scharff, Matthias Fuchs, and Clara de Pirey ruminated on the future of customer engagement. They posited that creativity and entertainment, or “retailtainment”, maybe keys to winning over new demographics.
For over a decade, the FHH Forum has served as a platform for debate and exchange to ensure the watch industry stays ahead of the curve. This year’s glimpse into “Horology Futurology” proved the future remains bright for luxury timepieces, though not without proactive work to adapt. The intellectually invigorating event left attendees with ample food for thought before next year’s edition. When 2024 comes around, we have no doubt the FHH Forum will yet again provide an unmatched window into the future of watchmaking.
The Fondation Haute Horlogerie is preparing to unveil a new digital art experience at Dubai Watch Week 2023, taking place November 16-20. The interactive exhibit will showcase 12 artworks dedicated to iconic timepieces from participating brands, aiming to entertain and educate attendees. Dubai Watch Week, now in its sixth year at The Gate in the Dubai International Financial Centre, has become a premier global event for the watch industry. This year’s edition features over 60 brands across watchmaking, design, automotive, and art. Aligning with the FHH’s mission to promote watchmaking culture worldwide, the foundation was commissioned to produce the 12 artworks highlighting key details of iconic watches from partner brands like Audemars Piguet, Bovet, Breitling, and more. While some will be readily recognizable, others will offer more of an artistic abstraction for enthusiasts to decode.