The history of Quartz crisis

Before smart watch dominates the market, the watch market has always been occupied by mechanical watches and quartz watches, but let us re-know the history of quartz watches.
In watchmaking, the quartz crisis was the upheaval in the industry caused by the advent of quartz watches in the 1970s and early 1980s, that largely replaced mechanical watches around the world.

  1. Before the crisis
    During World War II, Swiss neutrality permitted the watch industry to continue making consumer time-keeping apparatus, while the major nations of the world shifted timing apparatus production to timing devices for military ordnance. As a result, the Swiss watch industry enjoyed an effective monopoly. The industry prospered in the absence of any real competition. Thus, prior to the 1970s, the Swiss watch industry had 50% of the world watch market.
  1. Beginning of the revolution
    In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a consortium of Switzerland’s top watch firms fiercely competed to develop the first quartz wristwatch. On 25 December 1969, Seiko unveiled the Astron, the world’s first quartz watch, which marked the beginning of the quartz revolution.
  1. The rise of quartz
    Although the research and development of quartz watches represents tremendous progress, the Swiss still have not fully accepted this reality. At the time, Swiss mechanical watches dominated world markets. In addition, excellence in watchmaking was a large component of Swiss national identity. From their position of market strength, and with a national watch industry organized broadly and deeply to foster mechanical watches, many in Switzerland thought that moving into electronic watches was unnecessary. Others outside Switzerland, however, saw the advantage and further developed the technology. By 1978, quartz watches overtook mechanical watches in popularity, plunging the Swiss watch industry into crisis while at the same time strengthening both the Japanese and American watch industries. This period of time was marked by a lack of innovation in Switzerland at the same time that the watch-making industries of other nations were taking full advantage of emerging technologies, specifically quartz watch technology, hence the term “quartz crisis”.

After quartz crisis, mechanical watches have gradually become luxury goods appreciated for their elaborate craftsmanship, aesthetic appeal, and glamorous design, sometimes associated with the social status of their owners, rather than simple timekeeping devices.

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