The early history of Swiss watchmaking can be traced back centuries ago when a watchmaker, named by history books as Charles Cusin, who originally lived in Autun, a town in Eastern France, relocated to Geneva, Switzerland. His decision of crossing the border will be forever interpreted as nothing but a fateful move. The fact that Cusin never changed his address to another country after living in Switzerland turned out to have a huge impact to Swiss watchmakers, particularly those in Geneva, and, in the long run, the whole watchmaking industry.
To set the facts straight, Charles Cusin was, by no means, the first watchmaker in Switzerland. His significant contribution to the Swiss watchmaking industry was not exactly in connection with his talent, although he was indeed skillful in that aspect. What he did was form a guild that paved way to the greatness that is evident in Swiss watches.
It was in 1625 when the organization was established and become fully functional. What was the goal of the guild? Cusin thought it would be best if watches made in Geneva, Switzerland maintain a first-rate quality. A group of knowledgeable people was then tasked to do some quality check to the point of rigorously monitoring which craftsmen should be allowed to make watches. During those days, when an artisan failed to meet the standards of the guild, he would only have two choices. One was to go make a living doing something else while the other was to continue being a watchmaker but in a different place. The regulation may seem too strict but no one can argue the fact that it is because of this directive that Geneva watchmakers were able to produce exceptional timepieces that are revered by millions of people all around the globe up to this day.
The association also prohibited the sale of imported watches. While capitalizing on quality watchmaking, the group eliminated competition abroad.
It was not long after the guild was founded by Cusin when Geneva became recognized as a watchmaking center not only in Switzerland but in the whole world. The Swiss thought it was simply logical to create a law that would dictate when a watch will be considered Swiss-made.
Watches can rightfully claim that they are made in Switzerland when the watch movement was arranged and inspected in Switzerland. There is also the matter of watch components. Materials used in assembling the watch should be from Switzerland. If there were parts that are imported, a watch can still have the title of Swiss-made provided that more than half of its total components are manufactured in Switzerland.
Although it may seem that the Swiss watchmaking industry has been steadily thriving, it still experienced a dark age more popularly known as the Quartz Crisis. It was around the early 20th century when quartz watches became the trend. It was Seiko, a Japanese watchmaking company, who introduced the first-ever quartz watch. Probably, at that time, people were looking for something different than what they were used to that was why quartz watches were extremely popular during 1970s to 1980s.
The Quartz Crisis reached the point when it became truly alarming--the number of Swiss watchmakers was cut down to more than half, from 1,600 to 600. In order to live through the predicament, Swatch came to existence--a watch in a plastic case with a lower number of movements. Several Swiss watchmaking companies became part of the Swatch group.
Swiss watches are famous for their mechanical movements. While members of the Swatch group produce the contemporary Swatch, they still continued with the tradition of making watches one movement at a time, paying a great deal of attention to precision and impressive watch technology.
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