Let me preface this by stating two things: (a) this is a slightly more philosophical discussion than usual, and (b) Franco Cologni is an important man in the watch business. After starting his career selling Must de Cartier products in the ’70s (of which I am a fan), he rose prominently within the Parisian organisation, becoming the Chairman of Cartier in 2000. Besides his developed business acumen, Franco Cologni also has a developed handle on the English language, expressing opinions eloquently in the journal of the FHH, where he is also President of the FHH Cultural Council.
In one recent column, he investigates the semantic paradox of perfection within the luxury watch business. Franco Cologni begins by establishing that any “popular luxury” is in fact a fantasy produced by “luxury marketeers” (which can’t help but remind of the German philosopher Nietzsche when he asked, “How should there be a ‘common good’! The term contradicts itself: whatever can be common always has little value”).
While that might be more broadly open for debate, what he believes is less open for discussion is the definition of perfection proposed by Aristotle, where something is perfect when it is “complete and contains all requisite parts, so good, nothing of the same kind could be better, and has attained its purpose”. Unfortunately, perfection is a noun, not a verb, leaving no room for change or growth, therein lying the rub of the paradox. With more references to ancient Greece than a Donna Tartt novel, it’s refreshing to read such a unique approach to the world of watches.