Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie honours Cartier legend and Greubel Forsey founders

FHH Awards

The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) in Geneva has honoured two legends of contemporary and historic watchmaking with its Hommage au Talent and Hommage à la Passion awards.

The Hommage à la Passion award was given to Franco Cologni, current chairman of the FHH Cultural Council, but best-known for his 30 years of leadership at Cartier’s watchmaking business.

This year’s Hommage au Talent award was won jointly by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, who have turned Greubel Forsey into one of the world’s most innovative modern watchmakers.

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FHH is an organisation that promotes the continuing evolution of fine watchmaking in Switzerland and around the world.

Its Cultural Council is composed of around 50 independent professionals who vote on those who deserve recognition for their life’s work.

Mr Cologni, because of his position of chairman of the Cultural Council, said he could not accept his award because it would look like a conflict of interest. He chose instead to pass on his award to his former boss Nicolas G. Hayek in a posthumous tribute to the Swatch Group founder who Mr Cogni credits with rescuing the Swiss watch industry after the quarts crisis.

“The undertaking might well have seemed insurmountable at the time, yet Nicolas G. Hayek shouldered it as a personal challenge. In doing so, he succeeded in safeguarding a set of industrial facilities that has now firmly established Switzerland’s hegemony in the realm of high-quality watchmaking – as well as laying the foundations of what was to become one of the world’s largest corporations,” a statement from FHH says.

Mr Cologni added: “I wanted to pass on this distinction to Nicolas G. Hayek, who also displayed an ardent passion for watchmaking. This posthumously awarded prize should be regarded as a tribute to this great man without whom the Swiss watch industry would not be what it now is.”

Mr Greubel and Mr Forsey were selected for their joint work together, first at CompiTime, created in 2001, and then since the launch of Greubel Forsey in 2004.

“Since then they have tirelessly blazed new trails by creating original mechanisms. These have notably included their first fundamental invention, the Double Tourbillon 30°, which instantly caught collectors’ attention; a reinterpretation of the GMT function; a masterful perpetual calendar with equation of time; ergonomic bidirectional fast adjustment via a mechanical computer; as well as a new grande sonnerie (grand strike) mechanism equipped with 11 safety features ensuring maximum user-friendliness,” FHH says.

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Rob Corder

The author Rob Corder