Pierre Amstutz: Swiss watchmaking community loses a legendary figure

Pierre Amstutz – guardian of watchmaking knowledge and skills handed down from one generation to the next and director of the Geneva Watchmaking School – was meant to be celebrating two major projects, but when the time came to cut the ribbon, he had sadly passed away.

He was there at the party that evening, for the 2023 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix ceremony. Many attendees saw him and many shook his hand – for the last time. That evening, 10 November, the news broke and hearts everywhere sank. Disbelief gave way to moving testimonies and heartfelt tributes.

A new era
It was so unfair! He missed his own party, the culmination of his monumental project. It was planned for just a few days later… He was meant to serve as master of ceremonies at the official inauguration of the school at its new premises, under the auspices of Anne Hiltpold, the Cantonal Councillor who heads up the Department of Public Education, Training and Youth (DIP). But life decided otherwise and – thanks to the generosity of the ForPro Foundation, entirely funded by Rolex – the classes will now continue in a dedicated new space in the heart of the brand-new Tourbillon complex in Plan-les-Ouates, outside Geneva. “Classes resumed four days ago in the new building, the fruit of his work”, said a visibly moved Stéphane Cruchaud, Deputy Director of the Geneva Watchmaking School.

Carmelo Armeli, an anti-counterfeiting expert and a former colleague of Pierre at Rolex, also reacted spontaneously: “Even when he was very busy, Pierre always had time to listen to you.” The list of watchmakers trained in Geneva features many prestigious and globally recognised names. All of them, and also those who are less talked about, owe a part of their mystique to this hallowed institution and to those who led it and taught there. The entire Swiss watchmaking sector – in Geneva and well beyond – is in mourning.


Bicentenary celebration in 2024 at EPHJ

And then there was the other major project initiated by Pierre Amstuzt: in 2024, the school will celebrate its bicentenary. To mark the occasion, it will exhibit at the EPHJ Show at Palexpo, as well as at other jubilee festivities. Immortalised in educational videos on the YouTube channel run by the CFPT, aka the Watchmaking School, Pierre Amstutz tells the fascinating story of time that always passes and can never be recovered. “A great man is gone. He was a husband, a son, a father, a friend, a colleague, a mentor, an example to follow and so much more,” wrote Tiffany Gschliesser on LinkedIn.

Tiffany, a watch design technician and CAD trainer, added her voice to the many tributes that poured in. “I had the utmost respect for him; he was my director. In fact, it was a presentation he gave in 2014 that sparked in me my love and passion for timepieces. He was so genuine and sincere when it came to watchmaking that he really touched my heart.”



Joël A. Grandjean

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