Prix Gaïa 2012 – Franco Cologni. Entrepreneurship category
The Prix Gaïa jury was keen to recompense an outstanding personality having worked throughout his life to promote the watchmaking industry and its culture.
Franco Cologni is renowned throughout the watchmaking world as one of its finest ambassadors. His background in humanities undoubtedly led to his becoming the charismatic person we know today.
Armed with a PhD in philosophy from the University of Milan, he started out in teaching as a lecturer in theatre history and performance at the Université Cattolica, while juggling with a career in journalism, hence the numerous publications peppering his career.
As early as 1969, at the age of 35, he founded Tobako International, a company specialising in the manufacture and sale of high-end objects, and in so doing began a career devoted to the finest watchmaking and luxury items that money can buy.
To trace the career of Franco Cologni is to trace the trajectory of some of the biggest names in the history of fine watchmaking over more than 40 years, with Cartier and the Groupe Richemont providing the high point. An achievement that not everyone can claim.
While he is also one of the great craftsmen of Geneva's Salon de la Haute Horlogerie, it was by creating the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie in 2005 that he truly demonstrated the extent of his devotion to the history and heritage of watchmaking and the defence of the industry.
One of the most captivating aspects of Mr. Cologni's engaging personality is his dedication to science and culture through his adherence to so many associations. The Fondazione Cologni dei mestieri d'arte, founded in 1995, is aimed at supporting and encouraging training in the artistic professions.
In 2004, he founded the Creative Academy, a school of design and creative management, which, every year, awards a Master of Arts in Design to successful students. The Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, created in 2005 to focus on heritage and commercial projects, such as the Salon de la Haute Horlogerie, saw its efforts boosted by the creation of the not-for-profit Centre culturel de la Haute Horlogerie, whose purpose is to conduct scientific, cultural, promotional and institutional work.
Mr. Franco Cologni is also Vice president of the Fondazione Laureus Sport for Good Italia, a charitable foundation that promotes the practice of sport as an antidote to marginalisation and social exclusion.
Aside from his many works on watchmaking and the historical background of numerous watchmaking brands belonging to the Fine watchmaking foundation, Franco Cologny also assumed editorial responsibility for the 2011 publication "La Conquête du Temps, Histoire de l'horlogerie des origines à nos jours: découvertes- inventions - progrès"