alking past the bindings of the vintage editions lining the walls of our Geneva offices, the idea arose spontaneously: rather than laboriously searching for information page by page, among the thousands of issues, why not digitise our entire collection going back to the 1920s?
A centralised search engine would, after all, be much more efficient. And it wouldn’t prevent us from leafing through the old physical issues, and enjoying the pleasure of touching and smelling the aged paper. We could have the best of both worlds, tangible and virtual! Let’s stop turning everything into a fight, for once!
Without digitisation, the issue marking the 95th anniversary of the publishing house founded in 1927 by my great-grandfather, a visionary who wore many hats (watchmaker, publisher, entrepreneur, tireless traveller), would have been much more difficult to produce. We wanted to take a look back at what watchmaking was then, what it has become today, and everything that has happened in between.
Our archives are now enjoying a second life, and through them the memory of our forefathers, often so “contemporary” in an industry whose best-sellers are invariably products created several decades ago.
What was the watchmaking landscape like in 1927, the year the publications that would later be named Europa Star were born? On closer inspection, the world was maybe not so different, oscillating between openness and protectionism, technological partnership and the fight against the theft of intellectual property. The Roaring Twenties continued in blissful ignorance that they would come to a sudden end in 1929, and the world would be plunged into a spiral of conflict.
Our archives are now enjoying a second life, and through them the memory of our forefathers, often so “contemporary” in an industry whose best-sellers are invariably products created several decades ago. They offer a new perspective on certain past events.
But our own archives are only a small part of hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of invaluable watchmaking documents scattered around the world, waiting to be given a new lease of life. Just imagine: a new, horological Library of Alexandria, accessible at the click of a button to journalists, collectors, designers, historians and enthusiasts.
This is the dream that we mean to make a reality, via a new foundation launched with partners including the International Watch Museum, the Horological Society of New York, Arc Horloger and many others. The Watch Library, which has been granted charitable status by the Swiss Confederation, will be a knowledge tool for future generations.
Just as we are passionately searching for traces of the past, like archaeologists, our children will remember us by the traces we leave on this Earth. And since we will all end up in the archives anyway, we might as well take proper care of this precious heritage, and make sure it’s not left to rot in the back of a cellar! Future generations will thank us!
Since we will all end up in the archives anyway, we might as well take proper care of this precious heritage, and make sure it’s not left to rot in the back of a cellar! Future generations will thank us!