While the Ancient Greeks gave us both Chronos, the god of time, and the Olympic Games, they did not measure the athlete’s speed: only victory mattered.
The first sporting competitions in the modern sense developed after 1850. From a confrontation between individuals, sport embraced the notion of performance, thus paving the way for the timing of events.
When, on a proposal by Pierre Fredy, Baron de Coubertin, the modern Olympic Games were re-established in Athens in 1896, athletes were expected to set new records in a spirit that embraced sport, culture and education. Precision, perfection, elegance, beauty, quality and exclusivity – put simply, the highest demands – became the athlete’s values, shared by the master watchmaker whose exceptional creations are a reflection of human genius.
In “Fine Watchmaking Celebrates Sport,” this genius is not illustrated by the high-precision devices which for over a century have scientifically timed the athlete’s exploits. Nor is it demonstrated through functional watches or others issued to commemorate a sporting event. Rather it is expressed through seventy-four timepieces chosen for the technicity, science, expertise and beauty they encapsulate, therefore expressing a belief in self-surpassment and achievement that is shared by the athlete with whom we each hope to identify.
These wristwatches, curated by Dominique Fléchon, come from the heritage of the brands and from the major Swiss watch museums.
The photographs that illustrate the exhibition evoke, until the 1970s, the mutual influence of motor sports, physical sports and the wristwatch. The functionality of timepieces then fades into the background, seemingly replaced by design. The illustrations go on to show how, over recent years, master watchmakers’ most elaborate creations are always technically in osmosis with the challenges undertaken by exceptional men and women, the heroes of our times.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in French and English, imagined by Franco Cologni, Dominique Fléchon and Suzanne Tise-Isoré. It will be given to visitors to the exhibition and is also available from the Press Club.