The Advent of the Wristwatch

Please click on your chosen slice of time

1930 - 1940          World Depression    
1940 - 1950             World War II
1950 - 1960           End of Austerity
1960 - 1970        The Swinging Sixties
1970 - 1980       The Advent of Quartz
1980 - 1990    Booming World Economy
1990 - 2000          The Birth of Bling

1930ís World Depression

The 1930ís signalled the end of Prohibition and a new fluidity to the old structures of the previous decade. Surrealism was now the buzz word and, at the same time, the person on the street began to show an interest in sports. Jaeger-Le-Coultreís golf club watch dates from the 30ís. Mens watches reflected their new outdoor lifestyle and became more masculine.

Ladies watches for evening wear were growing smaller and more delicate in design. Techniques for making watches more robust were not available. The more elegant styles could not cope with vigorous physical activity.
With the advent of smaller movements, watchmakers who were used to repairing pocket watches found it hard to adjust to the finer work required in jewelled lever wrist watch movements. If they were unsuccessful in their repair work they told their customers that the watch was not functioning correctly due to the electricity in their bodies. Up to the present day many people still believe that they cannot wear a watch. I have disproved this theory several times.
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1940ís The War Years

During World War II all manufacturing enterprises, however small, had their production geared towards supplying the combat forces.

The civilian population were expected to make do with goods produced before the war or make the best they could with the basic utility goods available. Few examples other than military watches exist.

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1950ís End of Austerity

After years of austerity throughout the world, materials were becoming more easily available, many people were having more available money to spend. However, the average cost of a wrist watch was relatively high compared to average earnings.

With manufacturers freed from wartime production, some designs became more unusual and more innovative movements began to appear. However, the main case design remained nothing more than a shell, watches were still seen as functional items with very little fashion appeal, ordinary bezels, plain hands, straightforward dials and a very conservative choice of straps.
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1960ís The Swinging Sixties


The 1960's brought about a more daring approach to watch designs. Watches became more sturdy, replacing delicate ladies timepieces. In came new technological advancements and a profusion of designs and colours, alongside having to compete against the influx of the Eastern digital watches.
It was a decade of contrasts, between rising consumerism and environmental awareness. This led to the industry beginning to lose its direction and led to the upheavels of the 1970's, with the coming of the quartz revolution, extreme designs and Pop Art influences.
  Launch of the Bulova Accutron-electronic Tuning fork watch
1966 - Girard Perregaux 1st high frequency mechanical watch (36,000 vibrations per hour).
Girard Perregaux developes 1st mass produced quertz watch.

No longer were watches just used to tell the time, they were becoming a fashion item. Pop art was finding its feet along with the country's youth.

Mary Quantís exciting new ideas made London the centre of the 60ís fashion world.
1965 Launch of the mini skirt

1967 This was the first year the chronometer trials in Neuchatel Switzerland were rocked by the quartz competition. The accuracy of the quartz watches being produced was up to 10 times more accurate than the best mechanical watches.

A significant change had occurred in the world of watch making, previously the value of a watch apart from its design and the materials used lay in how accurate the movement was. The first quartz watch had been developed in 1928, but European manufacturers hesitated in embracing the new technology.
The youth of the post war period were delighted to be able to purchase accurate, attractive and cheap watches that were easily replaced. Watches of this calibre could not be passed down to grandchildren as family heirlooms.
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1970ís The Advent of Quartz

The 1970ís saw the coming of the quartz revolution - mass produced digital watches were becoming cheaper by the day. People were putting their gold OMEGA Watches and Rolex watches to one side and the LED watch became popular - soon to be superseded by the LCD. The thought at the time was that one day all watches would be made this way and that the mechanical watch was at an end. For a short time this was true.

The developing youth culture and the advent of the yuppie culture, plus consumers rediscovering their purchasing power, led to a huge demand for fashionable, good quality and well designed watches.

Automatically, historians describe the period as the era of poor quality control and poor technological interrogation. Swiss watchmakers met this demand by bringing out more fashion conscious pieces.

The fashion houses of Yves St Laurent, Christian Dior, and Gucci had watches designed to complement their latest look. The designer watch was born, very high fashion appeal and using more adventurous colours than Swiss watch houses.

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1980ís Boom Time

World economy booming, fashion trends changing overnight. People had money in their pockets and a versatile lifestyle demanding sports models and also slim elegant dress watches.

Sinclair C5 battery electric vehicle

Falklands War

1981 - Crisis in Swiss clock & watch industry reaches its peak.

1983 - Swatch is launched
1983 - Digital CDs & player introduced in Europe

1985 - TAG brand appears in the market.

1985 - Live Aid
1988 - SWATCH produces its 50 millionth watch to date.

  TAG acquires Heuer, creating....... 

1989 - Disintegration of Warsaw pact. Soviet Union abandons political hostility to the West - The Cold War ends.

Mikhail Gorbachev

George Bush


The self winding watch makes a comeback.

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1990ís The Birth of Bling

Youth culture in the 90ís was characterised by environmentalism and entrepreneurship. Fashion was often individualistic and body piercing gained popularity. Retro styles inspired by fashion of the 1960ís

and 70ís were also prevalent. Some young people became increasingly involved in outdoor activities that combined embracing athletics with appreciation of nature (such as Kayaking, Rock Climbing and Snowboarding).

There was an explosive growth of the internet, partly due to a decrease in the cost of computers and other technology.

Sports watches maintained their popularity - but were moving towards being dress watches - some sports watches having diamonds.

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