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FHH Forum 2023: ‘Horology Futurology’

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The Fondation Haute Horlogerie successfully hosted the 11th edition of the FHH Forum at the Maison de la Paix in Geneva. Under the evocative theme “Horology Futurology”, the event saw the participation of around 200 people. 


The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie was established in Geneva in 2005 to promote Fine Watchmaking internationally. It was set up under private law by Audemars Piguet, Girard-Perregaux and Richemont. 

Together with its more than 40 partners, the Foundation has three major goals; to inform and educate about fine watchmaking, to train fine watch professionals and to affirm its role as a Think Tank of the fine watch industry. These aims are based on three pillars, FHH Academy, the ‘Watches and Culture’ by FHH and the FHH Forum. 

Since 2014, the FHH Academy is dedicated to watchmaking education. As an official and internationally recognised entity, the Academy has now trained more than 20’000 people across the world since its creation. 

The UNESCO has registered the craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020. In the following year FHH launched the ‘Watches and Culture’ initiative which promotes the culture of watchmaking and exceptional watches as cultural objects and art forms for the broadest possible audience. 

Since 2008 the FHH Forum is a discussion and debate platform designed by the industry for the industry, informs, questions and connects the leaders of the sector with the aim of shaping the ecosystem of the future. The topics at the Forum group around five main themes (sustainability, heritage, innovation, experience and industry) which the annual summit addresses to help shape the industry of tomorrow – both in- person and online. 

FHH Forum 2023

The event started with the speeches of 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. 

The agenda included a wide and complex range of topics. The two first keynotes focused on ‘The World of Tomorrow: Macro Trends and Perspectives’.

Ian Goldin, Professor at the University of Oxford and world expert in futurology mentioned important milestones in the history of humanity; like the Renaissance (from the 14th until the early 17th centuries), the Gutenberg press (1430s) or the Industrial Revolution (c.1760- c.1840) and drew a parallel with our hyper-connected, hyper-integrated world as a new technical and technological revolution. This new era has many new exogenous factors and affects the customer behaviour in all industries, including the watch sector. 

Virginie Raisson, President of the IPCC Pays-de-la-Loire brought interesting geopolitical aspects and discussed major global issues, like climate crisis. She reminded us to learn from the mistakes of the past – the current societies have much more knowledge about ‘what could happen if…’, so it would be still possible to intervene. 

Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, President, International for the New York Times, moderated a Q&A session with the two keynote speakers, dedicated to managing the tensions between individual freedoms and the common good, drawing on historical and current data to illuminate the debates.

The fascinating presentation ‘Humans and Nature’ by Bruno David, former director of the French National Museum of Natural History highlighted the unquestionable importance of biodiversity and strengthening our link with nature. 

Founder of ‘Digital for the Planet‘ – an NGO designed for a better world through sustainable technology – Inès Léonarduzzi brought another dimension on ‘How to Manage Short and Long Time for Business Efficiency?’, encouraging long-term vision in entrepreneurial strategies. As she described, although short-termism is necessary sometimes if one must react quickly, but the ‘obsession with the short term is pathological’. Long-termism is a skill and organisations, societies and individuals have to develop it. 

From the comprehensive topics Karine Szegedi (Consumer industry lead, Audit Partner, Swiss Fashion & Luxury head and member of Deloitte Switzerland’s Executive committee) shifted to the watch business and highlighted key trends of the Deloitte Watch Industry Study 2023, such as the growing importance of India as an emerging horological market, or the greater price awareness and curiosity of new generations. 

Based on the study, Diana Derval, chief researcher at DervalResearch; Austen Chu, founder and CEO of Wristcheck; Scott Wempe, Limited Partner and Co-Head of Business Development at Wempe; and Guido Terreni, CEO of Parmigiani Fleurier sat together with Ms. Szegedi to discuss the different motivations, behaviours and expectations of today’s watch customer. 

The following panel on ‘A Prospective Evolution of Watchmaking Customer Engagement’ was moderated by Stéphane JG Girod (IMD Professor of Strategy and Organizational Innovation), with speakers Anne-Sophie Scharff, head of strategic planning at Digital Luxury Group; Matthias Fuchs, assistant professor of marketing at EHL; and Clara de Pirey, global luxury director at Nelly Rodi, focusing on new trends and the emerging concept of ‘Retailternainment’.

In his closing speech Stéphane JG Girod accentuated a few challenges (sustainability, AI, e-commerce) that directly or indirectly impact watch sales and the image of watch brands. 

Photo credits: The Image Gate for FHH, 2023
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