Press conference for the presentation of the Barbier-Mueller Museum Cultural Foundation

March 24, 2010 - Quai Branly Museum

Dear Friends,

All those of you who are loyal Vacheron Constantin devotees are aware of our deep-felt attachment to culture and the arts. Our watch manufacturing company founded almost 255 years ago is indeed dedicated to perpetuating a proud heritage and to passing on the human values that define its expertise.

Vacheron Constantin shares with the Barbier-Mueller Museum a belief in the wealth of human nature, its creative élan, and an admiration for the talent of some people to raise their craft to the rank of an art form – a talent that confirms that the human hand has a peerless ability to stir feelings…

For both our institutions, this corporate culture has forged a set ethical principles that guides our path in a 21st century where time tends to speed out of control and lead one to lose sight of essentials. Our partnership with the Barbier-Mueller Museum has seen the birth of a deep friendship with Jean-Paul, as well as the outstanding success of the Métiers d’Art – Les Masques watch collection which perpetuates hand-crafted expertise and pays vibrant tribute to cultural and ethnic diversity.

It is with the same determination that we are currently committing ourselves to supporting Jean-Paul Barbier-Mueller in the creation of the Barbier-Mueller Museum Cultural Foundation. We were in particular keen to promote an ethnological and anthropological study of the relationship peoples cultivate with time – a concept that we Westerners consider as either circular or linear. One can safely wager that in each culture time adopts its own symbolism and its own cadence.

We consider it a fundamental mission to highlight these little-known ethnic groups, their traditions and their daily lives. The current concerns with regard to the decline of biodiversity on our planet paradoxically tend to ignore the parallel decline among human communities, despite its extreme relevance to us. Because at least as much, or perhaps even more so than animal and plant-life species, the erosion of cultures has considerably worsened over the past few decades due to a variety of factors. The proof lies not in the extinction of peoples, but instead in that of the languages that are the lifeblood of civilisations.

Recently, the last survivor of a tribe of the Andaman islands in the Gulf of Bengali passed away – and with her, one of the world’s oldest languages, “Bo”, which had existed for over 70,000 years. The death of a language is a devastating fire that eradicates forever an entire legacy of customs and knowledge. This acculturation particularly affects Africa, Asia and South America, where there is an increasing number of oral civilisations.

How can we remain indifferent to this phenomenon? How can we not wish to preserve the traces of these peoples that enrich humankind? How can we not seek to bequeath this heritage to future generations? As human beings, we are entrusted with the duty of passing on all that we can.

This solemn duty also lies at the heart of the concerns pursued by the watch industry. Because watchmaking as we see it is above all else a culture. A human, technical and aesthetic imprint on History. It is with this in mind and as a social institution in its own right that Vacheron Constantin is proud to be asociating its name with the Barbier-Mueller Museum Cultural Foundation. Proud of continuing to be open towards the world. Proud of revealing the cultural riches of the planet and of seeking to safeguard its diverse identities.

On behalf of Vacheron Constantin, thank you most sincerely for accompanying us in this cultural and scientific approach. We are counting on your support in helping us to preserve the history, the beauty and the diversity of our world.

Its wealth stems directly from this diversity!

Thank you.

Juan-Carlos Torres
CEO of Vacheron Constantin
Président du Conseil de Fondation