An unprecedented conjunction of coincidences brought a unique breath of bliss to the 2021 ceremony. Like an improbable planets alignment above the venerable MIH’s Hans Erni Hall, there were tinglings with wonders.
Receiving a Gaïa is like being awarded with a Nobel Prize. Those who have received it, promising discoveries or confirmed talents who have already won awards on other stages, are recognized by their peers for their work as a whole.
Strong symbols raining down
Apart from the emotional intensity that characterizes the award ceremonies, the 2021 session was an interlude of pure delight in the history of this distinction. First of all, the historian Catherine Cardinal, former curator of the International Watchmaking Museum, had travelled to La Chaux-de-Fonds from Paris. She was the one who, at the request of her director, founded this award in 1993 and it has since become an institution. Then, in the “Craftsmanship, Creation” category, it was Carole Forestier-Kasapi who won the palm. A premiere, the first woman to join the prestigious gallery of great contemporary watchmakers!
Carole is a watchmaker of distinction, endorsed by the entire profession. Her speech, full of emotion and punctuated by moving tears, made everyone’s eyes shine. Finally, and this detail came back to me for having done personal research on the “last of the great orologeurs”, this exceptional laureate was the student of the Chaux de Fonds watchmaking professor Jean-Claude Nicolet ✝︎, who was none other than the first to receive the Gaïa as a watchmaker, just before François-Paul Journe in 1994. All of a sudden, a kind of virtuous circle seemed to halo the evening. A propitious context for the laudatios dedicated to Anthony Turner and Eric Klein, respectively winner of the “History, Research” and “Entrepreneurship” awards.