Given a world in which the economic climate remains complex, to say the least, the world of haute horlogery continues to maintain its enviable status. What do we mean, however, by luxury?
Our initial view of the luxury in watchmaking might involve the attraction for a particular brand. As a venerable history is one of the main appeals of a prestigious House, purchasing a watch bearing a famous name is not merely a question of having an instrument that gives the time but rather that of acquiring a small piece of a legend. Wearing this type of watch brings an implicit element of social recognition.
But this may also have the exact opposite effect: after seeing other members of their class sport the same watches, some people prefer to distinguish themselves by knocking on the door of independent watchmakers. On the far end of the spectrum of those major houses that turn out hundreds of thousands of watchpieces per year, there are smaller, independent craftsmen producing only a handful each year: genuine masterpieces, showcasing creative audacity. Admittedly, certain names such as Voutilainen, Strehler, Ballouard or Grönefeld may be unknown to the general public, but true watchlovers know the wonders of which these alchemists of time are capable.
More and more collectors are following the career of independent craftsmen as they buy up their creations with great delight…. and discretion. In this case, we could perhaps talk about “the luxury of rarity”.
In the heart of many haute horlogery enthusiasts, perfection goes hand in hand with complications (whether it be chronograph function, perpetual calendar or minute repeater, not to mention the legendary tourbillon) or innovation.
More classical are the crafts of setting, enameling and engraving, responsible for pieces that, according to many collectors, form the epitome of luxury watchmaking.
Could renowned watchmakers, prestigious materials, extreme rarity, sophisticated complications, technological creations, innovative design and artistic expertise be the basis to Haute Horlogery? No doubt. But what if, in the end, the real luxury in watchmaking were to simply be taking the time?