When it comes to watches, everyone will think of Switzerland as one of the world’s largest watch producers. Despite the lack of materials and the relative shortage of labor, Switzerland still has many world-renowned watch brands. Table-based, and other clocks and pendulum clocks. Watches are one of the main pillars of Switzerland’s export economy. More than 95% of the watches produced by the country each year are for export. This ‘kingdom of time’ (or ‘kingdom of watches and clocks’) contributes to the world’s timekeeping. Swiss clocks are a marvel of technology. In addition to the traditional precision, simplicity, superior functionality, exquisite workmanship, sophisticated materials and high price, they are now more attractive with technology, wisdom, elegance and changeable appearance. . So, what made it glorious today, and what promoted the formation of this time kingdom? Let me take you into the past and present of Swiss watchmaking.
‘Watch manufacturing is an art. Manufacturers need to understand both respecting the old-respect the traditional craftsmanship of watch manufacturing, and understanding newness-absorbing the cutting-edge technology of the manufacturing industry, and need to have a unique level of art, superb manual technology and solid Subject basis. ‘
—Excerpted from Swatch Group website
Religion’s ‘Mistaken Hits’ Opens the Door to Making Timepieces
Campanile of San Marco, Venice, Italy
In the 13th century, the Renaissance of Italy not only brought the golden period of science and development to the European continent, but also provided an opportunity for the development of the Swiss watchmaking industry. At that time, churches in northern Italy began to build bell towers to remind people of the time of prayer (to this day, the church’s iconic difference is the bell tower that is separate from the main building.) Such a dramatic appearance on the stage of time makes it have its beginnings. Religious colors. Then in Milan, Italy, the first European clock with the function of telling the time appeared.
The accumulation of primitive capital and the change of French religion
In the era of great navigation, clocks became an indispensable timing tool in the process of geographical discovery, and watchmaking technology has developed rapidly. The opening of new routes has greatly facilitated trade between Europe and Africa and the Americas. Wealth and precious metals such as gold and silver have flowed into Europe from overseas, laying a material foundation for the development of the watch industry. Watches and clocks that embody knowledge, culture, reflect the latest technology, and become more and more exquisite naturally become the fashion of European monarchs and aristocrats racing to chase.
18K Yellow Gold ‘Chronomètre Royal’ Pocket Watch, 1908
At the same time, the original accumulation of capital in Europe also quietly kicked off. Based on these two factors of material adequacy and expanding demand, the craftsmen of Britain, France, and Germany took the brunt of the trend and made exquisite watches and clocks in line with the times. Flourish.
The craftsmanship of the two countries made Geneva today
Vacheron Constantin with the Geneva mark
But the good times didn’t last long. Under the constraint of Martin Luther’s Reformation and the restriction of the Calvinist doctrine ‘promote frugality and oppose luxury’, the luxury artisans who were forced to make a living in Geneva had to find a way to change their lives, and happened to escape Many of the French Protestants came to watchmaking skills. This dramatic encounter promoted the fusion of the two skills, and in the rest of the development made the influence of today’s Geneva reputation, and the focus of the watch industry moved north to Geneva, Switzerland. Soon the watchmaking industry became an emerging, independent artisanal industry that swept the entire Geneva area. Geneva became the world’s watchmaking center. With the expansion of the industry, the world’s first watch industry association, the Geneva Watch Association, was established in 1601.
Chopard intricate watchmaking
Despite the beautiful scenery of Switzerland, the land is very barren. In the era when tourism was not yet on the rise, except for being hired as a soldier, the “better” geography allowed Swiss to focus on watch production and development. As we all know, the development and manufacture of watches require extreme patience and constant care. If there is a difference, a watch will become a scrap. Therefore, at the time, every watch made was a great encouragement to the watchmaker’s soul, full of a sense of accomplishment. In such a difficult environment and life, the Swiss watchmaking spirit and hard-working qualities have been honed. They have been passed down to this day, and they are also an important ideological basis for the formation of the ‘kingdom of time’.
The formation of the ‘watch valley’
Interior of La Chaux-de-Fond International Watch Museum
The eighteenth century was an important golden period for the development of the Swiss watchmaking industry. Clockmaking became the most profitable industry in the Neuchatel region (the world’s clock capital: the area where La Chaux-de-Fonds is located). When it takes shape, it will develop rapidly with the trend of breaking bamboo. The watch industry is also the same. Watch factories and workshops have sprung up from the north of Geneva along the Jura Mountains to the east and north to Basel. This area gradually gained fame throughout Europe, known as the ‘Clock Valley’.
Promotion of two industrial revolutions
Improvement of transportation
Productivity is one of the important factors determining the economy, two industrial revolutions, changes in productivity and transportation. Making the two concepts of time and efficiency deeply rooted in people’s hearts, people’s demand for precise timepieces is growing. This phenomenon has promoted the development and innovation of the watchmaking industry from the side.
Intricate Breguet Tourbillon
At this time, the tourbillon technology, known as one of the greatest inventions in the history of watches and clocks, was shocked when Breguet obtained a patent for the technology in 1801. The tourbillon is made up of more than 70 precision parts and usually weighs less than 0.3 grams, which is equivalent to the weight of a feather. This exquisite mechanical device can free the clock from the gravitational influence of the earth and compensate for the loss of travel time accuracy caused by gravity.
Neutrality protects Swiss watchmaking from war
As we all know, during the Second World War, the development of the German watchmaking industry stagnated due to the defeat of many watch factories in the country, and it gradually recovered after easing relations between East and West. Neutral Switzerland survived this time. The two-decade-old policy of armed neutrality, not only did not protect itself, but also took the opportunity to keep pace with the times, combining the classic craftsmanship of today’s pocket watches (tourbillon, chronograph, calendar, etc.) with watches that emerged after the First World War Come together. This represented that the fusion of the pocket watch and the watch era also provided a reference for the development of the watch at that time.
Unprecedented depression, great prosperity
From the early 1970s to the mid-1980s, the popularity of electronic equipment brought broad ideas to watchmaking in the world, and the watchmaking industry experienced unprecedented breakthroughs. Mobile phones, computers, electronic watches are everywhere, and the invention of quartz watches has greatly improved the accuracy of watches. But unfortunately, electronic products and quartz watches have brought huge crowds to the Swiss mechanical watch industry. The Swiss watch factory is extremely attributable and downsized, and the mechanical watch industry is at risk. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the smart Swiss were not overwhelmed by electronics and quartz, and instead produced many large and complex (tourbillon, three-question, etc.) watches, showing the unique charm of mechanical watches and Extremely superb craftsmanship. And this is what quartz watches lack. The enthusiasm for mechanical watches is revived by the retention of artisans’ works. This is a tribute to traditional craftsmanship and a heritage of classics. Some brands combine watches with electronic elements to break through the traditional way of creating timepieces and create watches more in keeping with the pulse of the times.
Summary: The development of any watch industry is not an overnight effort. Behind its radiant appearance, it also has an unknown and difficult past. Fortunately, the difficult environment and difficult life have not stopped the smart and industrious Swiss artisans from promoting the pace of watchmaking, constantly improving themselves, and constantly surpassing them are their never-ending spiritual pillars. It is they who have created today’s colorful ‘kingdom of time’, and with great expectations for future timepieces, make great strides forward!