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7e Forum de la Haute Horlogerie Visionaries enlighten the luxury watch brands

7e Forum de la Haute Horlogerie Visionaries enlighten the luxury watch brands
Asia, Europe, crisis, cooperation, innovation and social progress were the themes addressed by seven experts who cautioned the decision-makers in the luxury watch industry.

The eponymous forum was organised by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (Luxury Watchmaking Foundation, or FHH) for the seventh consecutive year, bringing together the watchmaking community at the IMD in Lausanne in mid-November to listen to some exceptional speakers who gave their views on the socio-economic factors that affect the activities of watch brands. It was a chance to step back for half a day of self-improvement. As the President of the FHH Fabienne Lupo recalled, this forum is a chance to listen to exceptional speakers who we would not normally have the chance to meet outside the context of this “speed coaching”. In his introduction, the President of the Cultural Committee of the FHH, Franco Cologni, stressed the importance of putting time in the context of memory and of looking reality square in the eyes: “just like in the past, luxury divides, but authenticity remains and beauty is eternal”. The Italo-Swiss consultant to the Richemont Group also stressed the talent of the speakers to analyse factors that will directly impact on the immediate future of the luxury watchmaking industry, far removed from the Cassandras and Nostradamuses.

Continental shockwaves
Former Prime Minister of Italy and Dean of International Affairs at Sciences-Po Paris Enrico Letta castigated the concept of “presentism”, the affliction of our times that blocks out both the past and the future. Calling for greater flexibility in a world where a succession of crises is becoming the reality, he pleaded for a more unified Europe that could continue to hold its own against the USA, China or India. Western economies accounted for 45% of the global economy 20 years ago, while the BRIC countries accounted for 17%; in 2016 the BRIC countries will account for 33% and western economies 32%. Such rapid changes have never before been seen in economic history. Europeans must come together to add value to the world. As if to drive this point home, China specialist and IMD professor Winter Nie offered multiple examples of Chinese firms that were non-existent just years ago but which are today worth billions. Their secret? Low-cost innovation, speed of market launches and listening to customers. Huawei, for example, offers smartwatches that are specifically designed for women or children.

Ideas rather than oil
For the economist Michael Green, the tyranny of GDP is leading the world to oblivion. Money may mean happiness, but only up to a point, beyond which there is a lack of criteria for measuring a population’s well-being. Switzerland, for example, with one of the highest GDPs in the world, ranks 49th in the world for obesity and 109th for suicide. GDP is blind to the environment, as the author of several books on the subject noted, campaigning for a new social progress index that takes social data into account. Another economist, who also writes for the Financial Times, Tim Harford, underlined the need for creativity and dialogue in order to draw up forecasts that are above average. According to him, there are some “super-forecasters” who are open proactive thinkers, look at their analyses from a distance and perform even better together. The same point of view was shared by adventurer and psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard, who called upon us all to question our certainties: “what if others are right?”. For the man who holds the world record for the longest solar-powered flight, we need to escape our own trajectory to improve our creativity and our expectations. The co-founder of Solar Impulse reminded us that the Chinese word for crisis consists of the two ideograms for “danger” and “opportunity”.

The new friend of the CEOs
As living proof that you do not become director of the Boston Consulting Group Institute for Organization by chance, Frenchman Yves Morieux demonstrated the virtues of cooperation and intelligent simplicity, and attacked the reign of bureaucracy and complexity in large companies, “where psychiatrists have replaced consultants”. Brilliant in both form and substance, he won over the room as CEOs exchanged complicitous elbow nudges and took photos of the slides on the screen. He encouraged maximum commitment at all levels, whether it is for a sports team or a group of employees. For the Californian exile, the sum really is greater than the parts and should encourage managers to reward those who cooperate more than those who excel on their own.

Article prepared by BRICE LECHEVALIER. For more information, please visit