Swiss watches have been synonymous with excellence as they represent innovation, passion, the best craftsmanship for generations. These have earned a position in the timekeeper industry and have maintained that for several decades.
Today, brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, Omega, IWC watches in Australia, and many more brands are the benchmark for the industry. However, the sail to this dominance was not a cakewalk. Before they could reach today’s esteemed position, swiss companies had to combat ferocious competition with French, Dutch, Americans, and British.
People are passionate about these watches and love to know the story of their journey to the top. Here we look at the emergence of watchmaking and the odyssey of swiss watches from entrants to ruling the roost.
The genesis of watchmaking
Watches come to existence as small clocks that one can carry along. Clockmaker based in Nuremberg, sew the seed between 1509-30. He specialized in the art of making miniature clocks that you can attach with your clothing or hang as a pendant.
During the 1550s Huguenots flee from France to escape religious expulsion and landed established a shop in Geneva, Switzerland. During the same period, people in the country were prohibited from wearing jewelry.
The whole situation forced jewel makers to switch their business to watchmaking. They integrated their skills and techniques of Huguenots to mark the commencement of this extravagant industry.
The heat of competition
For the entire 17th century, Dutch and German watchmakers dominated the industry. Several inventions such as the balance spring and fusee chain keep them ahead of others. The invention of the pendulum clock by Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch horologist, was groundbreaking development for manufacturers. Other inventions in Britain by several innovators pave the way for modern watches.
Meanwhile, Switzerland relaxed the rules for watchmaking, and Geneva stater producing more ornamented timepieces. Assembling components for these watches helped swiss farmers to earn during winters. Soon, Geneva earned recognition for watchmaking expertise and became the center of the country’s economy.
The emergence of the mountains as an innovation hub
During the 17th century, the Jura mountains became the hub of Swiss watchmaking. The mountain was producing impeccable innovation and quality. A goldsmith, Daniel Jeanrichard, from La Chaux-de-fonds, nurtured the industry in local cottage format and established standards for production volume, quality, and efficiency. None of the competitors from Europe were able to match the mass-production price and volume.
Reaching the global pinnacle
By the mid of 19th century, swiss watches took over the world market and were producing 10 times more than their competitors, particularly the British. However, this mass production took a toll on the quality and the US gave a setback to the industry with its highly precise timepieces.
Responding to the situation quickly, the Swiss brought all the production in-house. This redirection allowed them to maintain the quantity and earn a reputation for quality as well.
The Swiss companies embark on the 20th century by taking on to the US market competitors and win over with their mid-price range high-quality watches. During WWII American businesses were seized which brought Swiss companies to dominance after the war.
Until today, Swiss watches have maintained their dominance with quality luxury timepieces. They faced stiff competition by the Quartz movement and presently by Apple watches. However, these companies have withstood the test of time and have enough experience and expertise to continue their stay at the pinnacle.