The laws in Switzerland used to only require a watch be 50% made in Switzerland. As of 2017, that has been increased to 60% with much controversy and criticism over whether that is the best move for the watch industry. This is a fictional narrative that will be published in two parts that outline the issues surrounding the decision. While the characters are real, this story fictionalizes their role in an otherwise real world scenario using real world facts. Enjoy this case study-style narrative discussing the difficult decisions regarding the increases to the requirements to call something “Swiss Made”.
Founded in 1853, the American Waltham Watch Company figured out how to mass-produce watches so well that they almost put the entire Swiss watch industry out of business. I explain how this happened in a short Video Blog (vlog) post.
139 years ago at the 1876 World’s Fair…If you don’t like history, this article is not for you. However, if you like watches and their history at all, or even if you care about how things were made 140 years ago, then you should read this article. To fully understand how dire these times were for the Swiss industry, their representative wrote “It is obvious to all that at this moment the American factories have the advantage. Their products are wanted everywhere, they manufacture and they sell, while the Swiss factory is idle and its agents are without business, many with unsold goods.” This is the story of intrigue, secrets, strategy, and serves as the launching pad for the eventual Swiss dominance of the watch industry. This is the story of 1876.
This is Article 4 of our 4-part series on Design & Innovation. TAG Heuer Monaco. Rolex Submariner. Omega Speedmaster. Breitling Navitimer. Hamilton Ventura. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Lange 1. Over the previous 3 articles, I have argued why design is the only realistic hope the watch industry has to draw new consumers and shift preferences. I explained why the heavy investment in new movements, in-house movements, and material science are neat but don’t have the power to actually draw new consumers. Finally, in the previous article, I explained what makes a watch icon and why icons have defined watch history and encouraged watch companies to turn towards design to make new icons. In this final article, I’ll write about the watches that were icons and what them an icon, showing how much of that focused on design. These weren’t icons because of some massive revolution in them telling time better, or some genius new material. They were icons because of design. And while these designs continue to capture consumer imagination, it’s time for another bold step in design from the watch companies. Who will make the leap?
This is Article 3 of a 4-part series on Design & Innovation. Rolex Submariner. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Patek Philippe Nautilus. Heuer Monaco. Hublot Big Bang. Hamilton Ventura. Gerald Genta. Jean Claude Biver. These names all share a special bond that few others deserve to be associated with. These people or companies/designs took risks to make something new, something bold. Yet, despite great examples, very few watches or designers today introduce bold new watch designs that are a risk to any watch company.
How the Swiss became the best watchmakers is based on a series of choices and fateful shifts. What could reshape the watch industry again? We look to the history of the watch industry to find out.
Will you always prefer Swiss Made? In 2017, Switzerland implements a new law that will change what it takes to be considered “Swiss Made”. I will walk you through my thoughts on what it means to be “Swiss Made”, the brand equity that has, but also explore successful companies such as A. Lange & Sohne who are not Swiss. Swiss Made is the ultimate signature of quality. It is important to know the history behind it and what it means.
Can a new watch company really break into the market? Can a new company with no name and no reputation survive? Even if you have no interest in their watches, you have to be curious. Going head-to-head with the marketing power of some of these companies seems insane. Not to mention, their quality is second-to-none; does a micro brand watch company really think they can match this?
Vintage watches have become extremely popular among watch enthusiasts. Why is this? Why are antique watches not just antiques but sought after pieces? We explore the history of the Swiss watch industry that created “vintage” as well as why they are so popular now.