The new faces of tradition
We revere the independent watchmakers, but even in larger companies like Girard-Perregaux it is the talented watchmakers that are the soul of the manufacture. GP have decided to honor their young watchmakers with an advertising campaign called The New Face of Tradition. The young watchmakers have travelled the world, being photographed in locations from Paris to Beijing, Miami and now Sydney. Travelling the world also allows the watchmakers to share what they do and inspire others with the traditions of mechanical watchmaking.
Somewhat sunburned from being photographed at Bondi Beach in Sydney, I spoke with two of the young watchmakers, Lise and Lauriane and Stefano Macaluso, Product Development Director at GP.
PuristS: I started by asking Stefano Macaluso about the concept of the Young Watchmakers campaign. So many brands rely on celebrities, sporting figures, people in the public eye and the idea of using watchmakers and appealing to both the general public and the watch collector is innovative.
There is the traditional view of the Swiss watchmaker: the old man living in the charming Swiss Chalet, working at a desk lit by candlelight. But we are living in the modern world and we no longer use candles to light the workplace! The average age of our watchmakers is now around 35 years; they are not 80 year old graying men! So we wanted to show the reality, people who are skilled but still young at heart and leading an exciting life. We hope the general public can relate more to the watch artisans in this way.
The Young Watchmakers have been in some iconic places in the world to showcase our international approach to watchmaking. Our watches are 100% Swiss made, but we have an echo around the world, so we took our watchmakers to iconic places: New York, Miami, Paris, Beijing, and now Bondi Beach in Sydney.
PuristS: What has it been like being involved in the Young Watchmakers promotion around the world?
It is a very wonderful opportunity to be able to travel. And a very original concept for a watch brand to show the watchmakers who actually work on the products.
PuristS: What was the process to choose the watchmakers who would be involved in the Young Watchmakers promotion ?
Stefano: Firstly their skill, their age (between 20 and 25 years) and their hobbies; the private life behind the work.
The watchmakers got to tell their story and we selected eight people in 2012 and seven in 2013. We can’t choose everyone but we plan to continue with another group in 2014.
Lise: I have worked with GP since 2011. I am involved in the production of the automatic movements. My job at the moment is the final fine adjustment of the movement.
PuristS: What is GP like to work for as a company?
Lise: I love the brand and I look forward to learning different skills inside the company. This opportunity to promote the brand is not what I expected when I went into watchmaking.
Stefano: We require staff with a high skill level, but where it is possible we move people to different parts of the Manufacture. It depends on the attributes, desires and skills of the individual.
PuristS: What has been the best thing about the Young Watchmaker promotion?
Lise: Everything! Australia. Koalas. The process is a lot of fun. The photo shoot with the kangaroos and koalas was wonderful.
PuristS: As a young watchmaker what do you think about the future of mechanical watchmaking?
Lise: Quartz technology is now very standardised, very mass produced but in contrast mechanical watch technology is developing much more quickly. The future is definitely about mechanical watchmaking rather than quartz.
PuristS: Do you have a favourite watch in the GP collection?
Lise: The small ladies chronographs. Not only the movement, but also the case and watch design.
Stefano: The Cats Eye remains an important and consistent part of our range. In fact because of the diamonds and precious materials used, in terms of turnover it constitutes more than 20% of our income.
Lauriane: I work more on the tourbillons and I love the Laureato tourbillon with transparent blue bridges and the biaxial tourbillon with the titanium case.
My thanks to Lise, Stefano and Lauriane for spending time with me.
My thanks also to Avstev, the Australian Girard-Perregaux importer, for making this interview possible.