Chair in Watch Design

The Watch Design Chair offers a specialised course dedicated to watch design and culture. Watchmaking, the Swiss heritage industry par excellence, is a complex field of expression that mixes history with technique, creativity and economy. In fact, there is not one watchmaking industry, but several: the luxury watch, the entry-level watch, the professional watch, the lifestyle accessory. All these watches revolve around a same centre of gravity, design: the heart and soul of everything that makes Swiss watches unique, and its underlying creativity and ability to reinvent itself constantly.

For a long time, the impetus came from the industry itself, but the challenge of creativity has become so predominant that an academic response has become necessary. The Watch Design Chair is precisely intended to complement the industry, to help renew it, as a source of inspiration and innovation, with a sense of freedom and transversality that watch brands, by nature, cannot achieve alone.

The challenge is considerable, and the means are equal to it. During their training, students acquire design skills and learn to interact with the entire industry through seminars, talks, visits and workshops, where most of the creative projects are carried out in connection with brands.

During their training, students develop a watchmaking culture in the broadest sense of the word that includes history, current trends, strategic issues for the future, manufacturers, subcontractors, and mechanical complications. The students also follow courses in the Product/Jewellery and Accessory Design Bachelor’s degree, which opens up the spectrum to the fashion sector.

The students also get to hone their own creativity by approaching watchmaking in its entirety, from the 3D prototype to the finished watch, packaging, product environment, and project management, and from art direction to marketing positioning.

At the Bachelor’s level, the Chair in Watch Design offer the following programme: 

- Watchmaking manufacture and design 
- Watchmaking Drawing
- Understanding of watchmaking products
- Watchmaking complications (in association with the microengineering departement of hepia)
- Packaging design and product environment
- Advanced 2D design (Adobe Suite) 
- Advanced 3D modelling and rendering 
- History of watchmaking (in association with Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie) 
- Marketing of luxury and watchmaking products 
- Brand analysis
- Creative projects in association with watchmaking brands.

For their dissertation, students may choose to carry out a personal project or one related to an existing brand. Thus, at the end of their studies, graduates are able to work in the watchmaking field as qualified junior designers. The specialisation can also be pursued at Master’s level.

Teaching language : French. See all language requirements

Bachelor's studies at HEAD – Genève are in French.

Candidates whose upper-secondary level qualification has not been issued by a French-speaking institution must, once they have been admitted, submit a B2-level French certificate by 31 August.
Candidates do not have to submit this B2-level French certificate if they hold:

  • an upper-secondary level qualification from a German-speaking Swiss canton or from Ticino that includes French as a subject.
  • a tertiary level A qualification (Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification of at least 180 ECTS credits) in which French is the official language of instruction.

Download the Watch Design Chair flyer here

Head of Department
Valérie Ursenbacher

Scientific Collaborator
Stéphanie Van Zwam

Lucile Burnier
Cyril De Froment

Teaching Staff
Astrid Alberto
David Cuenat
Elizabeth Fischer
Grégory Gardinetti
Nicolas Mertenat
Valérie Ursenbacher

Invited speakers

Yvan Arpa, Alex Ballmer, Guy Bove, Christophe Barbier, Julien Bernard, Marco Borraccino, Michel Cover, Viviane Fankhauser, Stéphane Gachet, Jiyoun Han, Simon Husslein, Laurence Janin-Schlemmer, Hervé Munz, Neftali Nortario, David Rofeh, Christophe Roulet, Alain Silberstein, Didier Théraulaz, Serena Trabalza, Guillaume Tripet, Nicolas Wiederrecht, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht