The AHCI — Académie horlogère des créateurs indépendants is an academy of independent watch artists.
In 1984 the "Académie horlogère des créateurs indépendants" was established in Geneva by Vincent Calabrese and Svend Andersen. It is an international association of the elite of independent operating watchmakers. The founding members of the AHCI wanted to provide proof in 1985 that the small-scale manufacturing of watches also occupies a significant place in addition to the industrial.
The following year, Andersen and Calabrese placed an advertisement in industry publications asking other independent watchmakers to join their new Academy. Early to sign on were Bernhard Lederer, Josef Snétivy, and George Daniels, with Peter Wibmer, Paul Gerber, François-Paul Journe, Jean Kazès, and Matthias Naeschke all joining before 1990. In the following decade, notable watchmakers like Christiaan van der Klaauw, Kiu Tai Yu, Antoine Preziuso, Philippe Dufour, and Franck Muller joined. Notable members in the 2000s included Vianney Halter, Peter Speake-Marin, and Kari Voutilainen, and Muller was abruptly removed in 2006. In the next decade, Konstantin Chaykin and Ludovic Ballouard joined, along with a number of lesser-known watchmakers.
A process was established in the 1990s for watchmakers to become a candidate before being accepted. Some watchmakers never progressed beyond candidate status, notably Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey as well as the only female candidate, Eva Leube. No American watchmaker has ever been accepted as a member, though a number of Asian watchmakers have joined, including Kiu Tai Yu, Hajime Asaoka, and Lin Yong-Hua. Unusually, Urwerk was able to join as a company rather than an individual, initially with Thomas Baumgartner as the contact, though this membership was switched to Felix Baumgartner in 2004 when he left the company. No other watchmaker has received this treatment before or since. The AHCI had "honorific" and "passive" members for a while, but these categories no longer exist as of 2020.
Since its inception, the Academy was involved decisively in the comeback of the mechanical watch that - after the "quartz crisis" had passed - was again recognized as the product of higher quality. The ingenuity of the AHCI members, rarely seen by the public, helped many a watch model from a reputable manufacturer to become a success. The members of the Academy show that the highest craftsmanship is not inferior to traditional forms of design.
As of 2020, the following are members of the AHCI.
- Svend Andersen (since 1985)
- Hajime Asaoka (since 2015)
- Ludovic Ballouard (since 2015)
- Felix Baumgartner (Urwerk) (since 2005)
- Aaron Becsei (since 2009)
- Robert Bray (since 2005)
- Vincent Calabrese (since 1985)
- David Candaux (since 2019)
- Konstantin Chaykin (since 2010)
- Philippe Dufour (since 1997)
- Miki Eleta (since 2008)
- Paul Gerber (since 1988)
- Beat Haldimann (since 2001)
- Vianney Halter (since 2000)
- François-Paul Journe (F.P. Journe) (since 1988)
- Frank Jutzi (since 2000)
- Masahiro Kikuno (since 2013)
- Christian Klings (since 2009)
- Marco Lang (Lang & Heyne) (since 2005)
- Bernhard Lederer (Blu) (since 1985)
- Xushu Ma (since 2015)
- Sebastian Naeschke (Matthias Naeschke) (since 2008)
- Raúl Pagès (since 2017)
- Antoine Preziuso (since 1996)
- Alessandro Rigotto (since 2019)
- Andreas Strehler (since 2000)
- Zehua Tan (since 2019)
- Kari Voutilainen (since 2006)
- Lin Yong-Hua (since 2019)
As of 2020, the following candidates are working towards membership.
- Cyril Brivet-Naudot
- John-Mikael Flaux
- Ming Guo (since 2017)
- Stefan Kudoke
- Daizoh Makihara
- Florian Schlumpf
- Ludek Seryn
The AHCI officially recognizes the following as former members.
- Søren Andersen (1992-2018)
- Valerii Danevych (2014-2018)
- George Daniels (1987-2011)
- Xu Jiabao (2017-2019)
- Jean Kazès (1988-2018)
- John McGonigle (2013-2018)
- Matthias Naeschke (1988-2014)
- Rainer Nienaber (1993-2018)
- Aniceto Jiménez Pita (Pita Barcelona) (2006-2018)
- Thomas Prescher (2005-2018)
- Peter Schmid (1991-2012)
- Josef Snétivy (1986-1992)
- Peter Speake-Marin (Speake-Marin) (2004-2018)
- Kiu Tai Yu (1992-2012)
- Christiaan van der Klaauw (1990-2014)
- Volker Vyskocil (2005-2018)
- Peter Wibmer (1987-2013)
- Philippe Wurtz (2005-2018)
Additional Former Members
In addition to the official list of former members, the following have been members of the AHCI.
- Thomas Baumgartner (Urwerk) (1999-2004)
- Nicolas Delaloye (2009-2017)
- Marc Jenni (2012-2017)
- Franck Muller (?-2006)
- Jozef Op de Beeck (1995)
The following candidates never achieved membership.
- Vincent Bérard
- Saskia Maaike Bouvier
- Kim Djapri
- John C Ermel
- Stephen Forsey
- Andreas Fritsch
- Dominique Fritz
- Stephan Gagneux
- Robert Greubel
- Carlo Hengen
- Eva Leube
- Stephen McGonigle
- Steven Phillips