Chutzpah in Watchmaking

My Jewish friends can skip this one for sure… let’s talk about chutzpah!

A Forbes article quotes it as a Yiddish word for the confidence or courage that allows someone to do or say things that may seem shocking to others. In other words, it’s having the “gall” or “nerve”.

Basically… chutzpah is the willingness to take risks in a highly shameless and confident manner, that’s often seen as disrespectful or rude.

Chutzpah can be beneficial in some cases and detrimental in others, which makes it a potentially useful but also dangerous trait.

A simple example of chutzpah is a person who goes to a job interview and says “I don’t have any of the qualifications you require, but just hire me anyway, because I’m auger smart, learn fast. and I’ll probably do the job better than any of the other candidates”.

In addition, the book “The Joys of Yiddish” describes the following classic—but extreme—example of chutzpah:

“Chutzpa is that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.”

“There’s nothing good about chutzpah in Yiddish,” says Michael Wex, an expert on the language. “It’s an unambiguously negative quality characterized by a disregard for manners, social conventions, and the feelings and opinions of others.”

On the other hand… according to Rabbi Tzvi Freeman:

“To be a good person, you do need two opposites: a sense of shame that prevents you from acting with chutzpah to do the wrong thing, and a sense of chutzpah that prevents you from being ashamed to do the right thing.”

Rabbi Freeman defines chutzpah as “a kind of cosmic attitude, as though there’s nothing really there stopping you from doing whatever you want.”

You could argue Mandela displayed Chutzpah and in his response to Apartheid in South Africa, and Rosa Parks was described as having chutzpah for not giving up her seat on the bus.

What about watchmaking then? Can you name any watchmaker(s) or brands that come to mind when we think about Chutzpah? I’ll pick a few…

F. P. Journe for starters, specifically in relation to the Résonance – the man is an absolute hero – he tried to get it working, when nobody else had dared… and failed. He took 15 years to upskill himself and tried again- then succeeded.

Max Busser is another who comes to mind… do I even need to elaborate? Well, I won’t, because you only need to take a look at MB&F creations to realise that no normal person would try and make a business out of that, in a world which hadn’t seen such creations before, and that’s not even adjusting expectations for the prices.

Finally, Moser deserves a mention, if only for the now infamous “Swiss icons” watch… but also in their approach to the creative process; from no markings on their dials, to cheese watches.

Granted, not all chutzpah is necessarily going to yield a positive outcome, but it’s that approach which I find appealing. Everyone loves a good story when it comes to watches right… hell, I openly admit it’s one of the reasons why I love the Résonance so irrationally.

The bottom line is this: I reckon we need more chutzpah in the world of watchmaking. Do you agree?

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