If you know us (you’re here aren’t you?) you know that we have a fondness for the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI). The AHCI are the body of independent watchmakers established to preserve the tradition of watchmaking. This year they celebrate their 30th Anniversary and are raising money to sponsor their initiative to digitize key watchmaking documents and make them available to all watchmakers and hobbyists.
I’m not sure about you but my Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour t-shirt resides in a box marked “DO NOT TOUCH – UNDER PENTALTY OF SARCASM!” That shirt is more than just a (2 sizes too small) cotton under garment – it is my claim to the band that gave us so many hits (and that stupid theme song for the launch of the OTHER popular GUI computer operating system… uff). When I wear that shirt – well – when I look at that shirt, I feel great pride in knowing that Mick and ‘Keef’ probably got $0.45 of my money. Now is your chance to underwrite the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) and show your devotion to the rock stars of the watchmaking world.
It was way back in 1985 that Svend Andersen and Vincent Calabrese formed the AHCI as a resource for other like-minded independent watchmakers to pool together their talents and do battle with the major brands. Genius or not, how do you cope in a market segment dominated by companies that can spend more money on advertising in one day than you’ve generated in your entire career as an independent? The AHCI sponsor events where the very best of the very best in watchmaking can display their talents to folks who would normally do their watch shopping in the more traditional realm of the inside-cover or back-cover of glossy magazines. I’ve been to some of these events, and met and befriended folks like Miki Eleta, Marc Jenni and Kari Voutilainen. Have you ever met or befriended Omega, Zenith or Girard-Perregaux?
Messers Eleta, Jenni and Voutilainen have kicked-off an initiative to celebrate the first 30 years of the AHCI with a fund-raising event. Your contribution of 499 CHF will secure ownership in one of 30 wooden pens, hand-crafted by Valerii Danevych – the man famed for crafting complicated watches out of wood. For an additional 100 CHF you can purchase a limited edition pen and a signed copy of the AHCI book The Hands Of Time.
The funds raised through this event will be used to further enhance the world of watchmaking by digitizing historical AHCI documents at the Musée International d’Horlogerie at Le Chaux-de-Fonds. Those digital copies will be made available to watchmakers and enthusiasts around the world at no charge. This will help to further preserve mechanical watchmaking and insure that people interested in pursuing it have the opportunity to tap into the best and brightest thinking. Maybe someone who hasn’t even been born yet will pick-up the craft in years to come and take it further than any of the men and women (well, woman: Eva Leuba) could imagine today.
I’m pretty sure that there is a geek somewhere (sorry geeks) who has built a count-down clock denoting the precise moment that the watchmaking industry will implode (i.e. when the first Apple Watch goes on sale). I’m interested myself to see if predictions of how the Earth will tremble on that day in April come to fruition in the same way that Y2K was supposed to wipe-out the world’s power grid and December 21, 2012 was supposed to be the end of the world as we know it.
For now, I feel pretty comfortable saying that the likes of Svend Andersen and Vincent Calabrese are not exactly trembling in their boots. After all, creating an app that displays a woman getting undressed as the day progresses is not quite challenging in the same way that designing and building a mechanical watch that does.