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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
While "high-end" apparently remains an ambiguous term, "fine watchmaking brand" isn't.

"White Paper On Fine Watchmaking Identifies 64 Brands That Measure Up ... For Now"

Edit:
From "the White Paper Digest's" preface:

What does the expression ‘Fine Watchmaking’ entail? A question had been raised on many occasions in the past with no clear response based on supported arguments brought forward. Too obscure, often weak, the expression “Fine Watchmaking” had lost its lustre and meaning. A situation that drove the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie to attempt to bring answers by drawing the contours of its world of knowledge and know-how.

From the very beginning, in 2005, the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) appointed a Cultural Council made of reputable individuals, independent from watch brands.

Its main mission? Discuss and debate to build the foundations on which Fine Watchmaking will build upon. After 3 years of work and multiple considerations and consultations conducted by these experts, the White Paper of Fine Watchmaking was born. A new reference, the White Paper offers a definition of Fine Watchmaking, complete and indisputable, as well as a definition of its Perimeter: the list of stakeholders of Fine Watchmaking.

These definitions come at an important time to defend and promote Fine Watchmaking. They offer the public at large the opportunity to better understand the mechanisms ruling the pinnacle of the art of horology, the White Paper aims to prevail as the rightful guide, a guarantee of authenticity and legitimacy for professionals, collector and amateurs alike.​

For the full version of "White Paper," click here. (It downloads as a PDF.)




(Off Topic: Maybe WUS should rename this forum "Fine Watches" and cite the FHH's white paper as the basis for determining what makes qualify for discussion here?)
 

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I wonder what the FHH is trying to achieve by doing that. Is this a label that is supposed to be used for communication to customer? For a future standard of quality?

The fact that a brand like Tag Heuer is in the list makes me think that we have a different view on this forum, or that maybe we are too extreme. Tag does make a handful of high end pieces, but they represent less than 1% of their production volumes. Are we missing something?
They also list Romain Jerome which has filed for bankruptcy a month ago, this is very odd.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I wonder what the FHH is trying to achieve by doing that. Is this a label that is supposed to be used for communication to customer? For a future standard of quality?

The fact that a brand like Tag Heuer is in the list makes me think that we have a different view on this forum, or that maybe we are too extreme. Tag does make a handful of high end pieces, but they represent less than 1% of their production volumes. Are we missing something?
They also list Romain Jerome which has filed for bankruptcy a month ago, this is very odd.
Re: bold text:
Look at the date of the referenced article.
 

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Re: bold text:
Look at the date of the referenced article.
Oh, my bad, I read April 27 and assumed it was 2020!
What do you think of that list? Useful for consumers to know what they're buying? Useful for social prestige?

I think that each manufacture can show know-how and fine execution on different pieces, and that a whole brand is not always representative of the quality of individual watches. I'm still struggling to understand the merits and application of such a rating.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh, my bad, I read April 27 and assumed it was 2020!
What do you think of that list? Useful for consumers to know what they're buying? Useful for social prestige?

I think that each manufacture can show know-how and fine execution on different pieces, and that a whole brand is not always representative of the quality of individual watches. I'm still struggling to understand the merits and application of such a rating.
"What do you think of that list? "
  • I have yet to read the list, though I can guess some of the makers that appear on it.

What mattered to me was the methodology for developing the list, for if I find the methodology materially apt, I must necessarily agree with the results of the methodology's application. I have no material objections to the FHH's methodology. (The FHH exposes its methodology in the full version of "White Paper.")

"[Do you think the list] Useful for consumers to know what they're buying? Useful for social prestige?"
  • Question 1 -> To the extent consumers understand the methodology that yielded the FHH's conclusion, yes.
  • Question 2 -> No as go watch buyers. Yes with regard to watchmaking firms.
 

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Well, FHH is simply an industry trade group originally founded in 2005 by Richemont Group, Audemars Piguet, and Girard-Perregaux. Therefore their interests would be to have "definitions" and "criteria" broad and vague enough to fit as many manufacturers (willing to support them) as they can under the tent. One of the things in the white paper is that their "Council" uses a 65/35 objective/subjective split to decide who is in.

'nuff said.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, FHH is simply an industry trade group originally founded in 2005 by Richemont Group, Audemars Piguet, and Girard-Perregaux. Therefore their interests would be to have "definitions" and "criteria" broad and vague enough to fit as many manufacturers (willing to support them) as they can under the tent. One of the things in the white paper is that their "Council" uses a 65/35 objective/subjective split to decide who is in.

'nuff said.
Fine Watchmaking is excellence in watchmaking, the techniques of watchmaking in symbiosis with the applied arts.
- Foundation of Haute Horology


I greatly appreciate the FHH promulgating a definition of the term "fine watchmaking" Notwithstanding whether I have material objections to the definition and/or the manner by which watchmaking firms obtain the corresponding classification, - being inexpert on watches, the new and pre-owned watch industry and its macro and micro level operations or art history, I don't - the definition fills a heretofore extant gap pervading watchmaker-related discourse. Now there is a commonly understood basis for knowing what distinguishes fine watchmaking, and somewhat inferentially the preponderance of its outputs, from all other forms of watchmaking.

I don't much care what the definition of a fine watchmaker is. I care that that term has a clear meaning. I care for the the same reasons I care that any word/term has a clear definition.

Quite frankly, I don't see nothing to object to in that definition or what a firm must do to earn the "fine watchmaker" moniker.
 

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Quite frankly, I don't see nothing to object to in that definition or what a firm must do to earn the "fine watchmaker" moniker.
Well, that’s kind of my point; they’ve made it so inclusive that almost anything halfway decent can qualify.

Personally I subscribe to Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of pornography as applicable to this question.


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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Well, that’s kind of my point; they’ve made it so inclusive that almost anything halfway decent can qualify.

Personally I subscribe to Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of pornography as applicable to this question.


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While you, as does WUS, prefer Justice Stewart's approach, and though I can effect it, it is not my preferred tack. I strongly prefer denotational unequivocality.

Re: bold text:
Inclusive?
- A firm must be invited to apply for the appellation.
- 64 of 86 invited firms obtained the classifier.
IDK what firms were declined the recognition, but I know far more than 86 firms make watches that, to at least COSC standards, measure and report time using movements housed inside durable and attractive cases mounted on an adequate bracelet or strap.

I can't say whether those watches are "halfway decent" because, unlike "fine watchmaking," there is no promulgated definition of what exactly that term means and by what criteria it's measured, and you provided none of your own.

Therein lies the value of the FHH's definition and measurement criteria. It overcomes ambiguity, which is never a bad thing for discursive situations. As Mr. Ravessoud noted: "if you ask 10 people to define fine watchmaking, you get 15 answers." Now, there is one definition that all, their approbation notwithstanding, can use and/or see used and know exactly what it means.
 

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While the definition in itself seems adequate, I have to agree with mlcor that there is an obvious bias for choosing the brands to invite.
Also, as noted above, the criterion is much more inclusive of what would be considered in this forum as mid to top-tier brands (like Breitling, Tudor, Rolex and Omega to name a few). On WUS, people tend to differentiate even further for high end brands, specifically because we are already "connoisseurs", and not the average consumer who has little knowledge of the world of watches. For any non-knowledgeable person, a Breitling is a fine watch. And it truly is, but when you start digging further, you expand your horizon and discover that to be as accurate as possible you need multiple other levels of distinction.

To further emphasize my earlier point of considering the merits of each watch individually, I could name that Montblanc is in the list, and while they definitely make a few ultra high-end and fine watches, most of the big sellers are not. They use off the shelf movements and industrial finishing. On the other hand, Chronoswiss is not in the list, while they certainly have some high end pieces, and most of their regular collections use heavily modified standard movements, for an average price point that is above Montblanc.

I don't really believe this list has anything to add to the table that we didn't know before, but again, the definition kind of hits the mark. Now the position of the cursor to make the cut is what everyone should be able to manually adjust depending on their personal experiences and sensibilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
While the definition in itself seems adequate, I have to agree with mlcor that there is an obvious bias for choosing the brands to invite.
Also, as noted above, the criterion is much more inclusive of what would be considered in this forum as mid to top-tier brands (like Breitling, Tudor, Rolex and Omega to name a few). On WUS, people tend to differentiate even further for high end brands, specifically because we are already "connoisseurs", and not the average consumer who has little knowledge of the world of watches. For any non-knowledgeable person, a Breitling is a fine watch. And it truly is, but when you start digging further, you expand your horizon and discover that to be as accurate as possible you need multiple other levels of distinction.

To further emphasize my earlier point of considering the merits of each watch individually, I could name that Montblanc is in the list, and while they definitely make a few ultra high-end and fine watches, most of the big sellers are not. They use off the shelf movements and industrial finishing. On the other hand, Chronoswiss is not in the list, while they certainly have some high end pieces, and most of their regular collections use heavily modified standard movements, for an average price point that is above Montblanc.

I don't really believe this list has anything to add to the table that we didn't know before, but again, the definition kind of hits the mark. Now the position of the cursor to make the cut is what everyone should be able to manually adjust depending on their personal experiences and sensibilities.
The FHH have not carried their definition to the level of enumerating specific watches; they've left it at the brand level. That's as it should be given that the definined term is "fine watchmaking." Moreover, the FHH, unlike COSC or the city and canton of Geneva, Switzerland, appears disinclined to give an imprimatur or laurel to specific watches.
 

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Criteria should be based on whether or not the brand would go under if they could not sell any high end pieces at all. For example, if Tissot poached some movements and borrowed watch makers from Breguet and made some outstanding tourbillons with the Tissot name, they would still not qualify because those watches could sit around in their boutiques forever and the company would still be doing fine.
 

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The FHH have not carried their definition to the level of enumerating specific watches; they've left it at the brand level. That's as it should be given that the definined term is "fine watchmaking." Moreover, the FHH, unlike COSC or the city and canton of Geneva, Switzerland, appears disinclined to give an imprimatur or laurel to specific watches.
...and again, it's in the best interests of FHH to do it that way. I have nothing against brands like Omega (I own three, in fact I'm wearing one right now), nor do I disagree that Omega is capable of making (and has made) pieces I would consider high end. However, the vast majority of their models (including all of the ones I have and enjoy) would not IMO be considered high end.

I guess what I'm saying is that high end (at least in the way I think of it) just isn't synonymous with "fine watchmaking" as defined by FHH. Expanding this subforum to cover all brands and models that fit in their very large tent would IMO dilute this subforum to the point of being useless.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
...and again, it's in the best interests of FHH to do it that way. I have nothing against brands like Omega (I own three, in fact I'm wearing one right now), nor do I disagree that Omega is capable of making (and has made) pieces I would consider high end. However, the vast majority of their models (including all of the ones I have and enjoy) would not IMO be considered high end.

I guess what I'm saying is that high end (at least in the way I think of it) just isn't synonymous with "fine watchmaking" as defined by FHH. Expanding this subforum to cover all brands and models that fit in their very large tent would IMO dilute this subforum to the point of being useless.
Re bold text:
Um, okay, but I never suggested or said it is. On the contrary, witth the first sentence in my OP, I tacitly cite a material difference between them: "While "high-end" apparently remains an ambiguous term, "fine watchmaking brand" isn't."


"Large tent":
The "tent" consists of 64 makes of watch. Of those 64, which are unwelcomed for discussion in this subforum? Rolex? Omega? Breitling? Tag? Others? Of the four I note, at least three have dedicated forums, so it's not certain they'd get discussed much here anyway.

That said, I don't care what watch makes get discussed in this subforum. I just want a comparable measure of clarity, comparable to that of the brand forums, over what makes are fit fodder for discussion here. I'm even indifferent about what the criteria be, so long as they're clear.

Imagine any term you want and that, upon seeking a definition of it, you found the decoration is "whatever an unnamed body of individuals having varying degrees of uncertified knowledge, experience and expertise (ranging from none to "whatever") on the matter say it means at that moment in time." That is how "high-end" is, in substance, defined here.

I hope I needn't note the inequity such ambiguous guidelines have yielded repeatedly throughout history.
 

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Re bold text:
Um, okay, but I never suggested or said it is. On the contrary, witth the first sentence in my OP, I tacitly cite a material difference between them: "While "high-end" apparently remains an ambiguous term, "fine watchmaking brand" isn't."


"Large tent":
The "tent" consists of 64 makes of watch. Of those 64, which are unwelcomed for discussion in this subforum? Rolex? Omega? Breitling? Tag? Others? Of the four I note, at least three have dedicated forums, so it's not certain they'd get discussed much here anyway.

That said, I don't care what watch makes get discussed in this subforum. I just want a comparable measure of clarity, comparable to that of the brand forums, over what makes are fit fodder for discussion here. I'm even indifferent about what the criteria be, so long as they're clear.

Imagine any term you want and that, upon seeking a definition of it, you found the decoration is "whatever an unnamed body of individuals having varying degrees of uncertified knowledge, experience and expertise (ranging from none to "whatever") on the matter say it means at that moment in time." That is how "high-end" is, in substance, defined here.

I hope I needn't note the inequity such ambiguous guidelines have yielded repeatedly throughout history.
Well, with respect, you kinda did imply that all of those brands should qualify for discussion in this subforum when you said: "(Off Topic: Maybe WUS should rename this forum "Fine Watches" and cite the FHH's white paper as the basis for determining what makes qualify for discussion here?)" in your original post.

And I would say, yes, the four brands you cite are not brands that should be discussed as high end in this subforum. They're all fine brands (I own watches from three of them), but not IMO high end as with others we discuss here.

You're right, the definition we use here is vague. But what fun would the discussion be without that vagueness? :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Well, with respect, you kinda did imply that all of those brands should qualify for discussion in this subforum when you said: "(Off Topic: Maybe WUS should rename this forum "Fine Watches" and cite the FHH's white paper as the basis for determining what makes qualify for discussion here?)" in your original post.

And I would say, yes, the four brands you cite are not brands that should be discussed as high end in this subforum. They're all fine brands (I own watches from three of them), but not IMO high end as with others we discuss here.

You're right, the definition we use here is vague. But what fun would the discussion be without that vagueness? :)
I don't think the definition used here is vague. I think it's ambiguous.

Edit:
I find the FHH's definition vague, but insofar as they also enumerate what firms meet the definition, the vagueness is removed and ambiguity averted.
 
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