In 1983 the Swatch watch was introduced to the world market. It was an instant success with many different versions and brilliant colors. However, behind this breakthrough product was a much bigger endeavor designed to re-invigorate Switzerland's struggling watch industry.
We all forget how important mechanical timepieces were a century ago as we glance at the time on our smart phones today. A century ago there was no digital, virtual or "cyber-real" time. All of the watches were mechanical. Switzerland was the undisputed leader of watchmaking at hat moment in history. However, increasing competition from Japanese manufacturing beginning in the 1930s, put the Swiss watch industry under severe economic stress. It wouldn't be until the early 1980s that the entrepreneur, Nicolas Hayek, would develop a strategy to consolidate all of the diverse, Swiss watchmaking industries under a new umbrella organization: Swatch Group. The Swatch watch became the emblem of this new revitalization.
Since 1983 Swiss watch companies have become increasingly controlled by the Swatch Group to manufacture and provide parts exclusively to Swiss manufacturers. I was making my first hand built watch during those years, so didn't realize what those changes would mean going forward.
In the 1980's it was easier to order movements and parts from Switzerland. Now it is much harder. Ironically, this vertical consolidation of the Swiss watch industry may have had a positive effect on my thinking. Technically complex, highly water resistant cases have always been an integral part of watchmaking for Object Design Studio. Today there is a greater challenge to innovate new solutions for designing. It has meant rethinking every aspect of the watch design, including creating new, hand built watch dials. Read: The Ocean on this blog for more.