The scale and pace of human activity on the planet demand changes. Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility, and the watch industry must embrace better practices. With this in mind, Watches and Culture, the cultural division of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (the organiser of Watches & Wonders), will hold its Watch Forum 2022 on 13 September in Geneva. Lasting the entire day, the event will focus on sustainability and its real-life implications for the watch industry. We sat down with Pascal Ravessoud of Watches and Culture to understand the ambition of the forum.
Xavier Markl, Monochrome watches – Watches and Culture was created a few months ago. What role does it play, and what does it hope to achieve?
Pascal Ravessoud, Director of External Affairs at the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie / Watches and Culture – Watches & Wonders is a commercial event for a certain set of brands. The flagship event is held in Geneva, but we have events in Shanghai and Hainan. On the other hand, the aim of Watches and Culture is to promote watchmaking culture worldwide. It is an independent division with different perspectives and is not connected to brands. We have three main pillars:
The first is our Academy. It was initially developed for B to B in the past, with a mission of training and certifying non-technical watch professionals. We have trained over 26,000 professionals. And then we have developed training for watch enthusiasts.
The second is the Gate, a gate into watchmaking. We launched our Instagram account @watches__cltr, a new entry point targeting audiences that are not so familiar with the watchmaking world. There is the Watch Essentials app (created in 2016) available on Appstore with courses on the basics of watchmaking. And then, there is the Watchesandculture.org website that will be revamped or rejuvenated in the next 6 to 9 months with a more modern, lighter tone.
The third pillar is the Forum. The forum is a platform for discussion and debate mainly for the industry. Of course, it is not closed to people outside the industry, but the idea is to help craft the industry of tomorrow by tackling hot topics. One of these is sustainability. We want to be a catalyst for positive change in the industry.
The forum will be held on September 13th in Geneva. Why sustainability, and what is the goal?
Again we want to be a facilitator. We want to help the industry and brands improve their practices. Sustainability is one of the most pressing issues. It is time for a change. It is time for action for everyone, for every industry and for the watch industry.
We are often told that the watch industry is quite sustainable. We pollute less than other industries, for sure, but there is still so much to be done. We think the industry has a model role to play. We need to be at the forefront of sustainable development. Everyone has to make efforts and embrace sustainable practices. We need much more transparency. Mentalities need changing. Some of the topics the watch industry needs to address are traceability across supply chains, the impact on biodiversity, the development of recycled materials, and a circular economy.. not forgetting the social issues of equality and inclusion. The answers to these questions will be decisive for the profession’s future.
Hopefully, this one-day event will help raise awareness and trigger action.
Having a look at the forum agenda, the programme is dense. What will be the highlights of the forum?
Well, there are so many topics to address. Among the highlights of the day or backbone actions for the industry is the Watch & Jewellery Initiative 2030 announced by Richemont and Kering at Watches & Wonders 2022. The idea is to set standards for the industry. Every brand is free to join. The idea is to collectively spark change.
This is why we’ll have Cyrille Vigneron, CEO of Cartier, as one of the key speakers since Cartier has been delegated by Richemont to lead this initiative. We’ll have Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability and Institutional Affairs Officer at Kering and we’ll have the newly appointed Director of the initiative, Iris Van der Veken. There will be a few brands joining the initiative soon. We need a systemic change and, therefore, sustainable practices need to be embraced by many players and adopted as widely as possible!
Held in Geneva on 13 September 2022, the Watch Forum is an invitation-only event. Its purpose is to promote positive emulation and engage all stakeholders in a more sustainable industry. Reports on the event will be released on watchesandculture.org and in the New York Times, which is a partner media for the forum.
For more information, please visit www.watchesandculture.org/forum.