Recently, WatchTime had the opportunity to talk with Pascal Ravessoud, International Development Director and Secretary-General of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie Cultural Council, about the FHH’s mission, his role, and why even the most passionate watch collector could not become a member.
In one sentence, what does the FHH do, and who can join?
The FHH is committed to improving the appreciation of fine watchmaking. Everyone can join, actually everyone must. All our content is online and accessible to everyone. Memberships are reserved for haute horlogerie brands who support us financially, support our mission and develop our content.
How does the end consumer benefit from the FHH?
The FHH is the reference for watchmaking knowledge. We provide a high-quality framework of expertise and experience in many different ways, accessible to every person interested (digital, events, workshops, conferences, VR, etc.). We bring added value to our brands and provide transversal, informative content for people who are searching for a reliable, credible source of information.
What is your role within the FHH?
I am developing the activities of the FHH at the international level, trying to identify opportunities to increase our reach and usefulness further when required. I am also in charge of coordinating the activities of our Cultural Council, an external “advisory board” of 50 experts worldwide who help us refine and promote our cultural activities in different ways.
What do you see as the FHH’s biggest challenge?
Aligning the stars! We have come to life as an initiative of our three founders (Richemont Group, Audemars Piguet and Girard-Perregaux) with the aim of being useful for the whole industry, but it is sometimes challenging to see other players accepting our “original sin.”
In just a few years, the FHH has successfully transformed the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) from a trade fair to a global platform for the luxury watch industry (and successfully launched Watches & Wonders Miami, etc.). Where does the FHH go from there?
That was just the beginning. Without giving up too many secrets, you can expect us to continue to apply further evolutions to this platform. The world is changing, the brands are changing, the consumers’ habits are changing, so the retail salons have to follow suit, and quite rapidly. Customer experience is the keyword nowadays. Our asset is our agility and the enthusiasm of a small, dedicated and motivated young team to design and implement the best salons of their kind in the world. Miami is an evolution, other initiatives may follow. We consult with our brands on a constant basis, we can and will swiftly adapt to their needs.
What was your first real watch?
When I was a teen, I used to surf on the Swatch phenomenon, and when I was 20, a friend of mine showed me a Longines Lindbergh Chronograph with a see-through back, so I could admire its movement. From that moment on, I was sold on mechanical watchmaking. Soon after, I bought that watch and that was the start of a long, long journey.
Your favorite complication, and why?
The Perpetual Calendar. How crazy and skillful were these watchmakers in the 18th century to design a mechanical calendar that you only have to adjust once every 100 years? This is mindboggling to me, and I also love the way each watch manufacturer has found ways to interpret it in its own way, or even perfect it to the point that you can adjust it backwards without taking the risk to break it (not all of them, so be careful!). Last but not least, it is useful.
What are you wearing today?
A Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox from my birth year.
What is your advice to the average watch collector?
Buy what you like. Only what you like. The nicest collections have been built out of passion, not value. If you don’t have a grin on your face every time you look at your wrist, then there is something wrong!
Can haute horlogerie stay relevant for Gen Z?
Gen Z is born in a digital world, and the mechanical watches are irrelevant to them. Well, they are irrelevant for everyone nowadays, as time measurement is not a need anymore. And this is precisely why it is so intriguing for this generation. I regularly give lectures to classes of this generation and a lot of them tell me watches are the only disconnected item they have around them, their obsolescence is not programmed, and they need no update. Many of them start buying their first watch vintage as they look cool. Gen Z is looking for humanity in an increasingly connected, but “humanless” world! A real product made by real humans, where the importance of their hand is at the core of the product’s creation. Another aspect is that a mechanical watch by definition is very sustainable and that adds to its attraction for the younger generation.