Swiss watches have the reputation for quality, craftmanship, and fine art. However, the symbol of Swatch that defines much of the world view of watches coming out of Switzerland today did not always flourish as such. In the 1970’s, Swiss watch makers faced huge competition from Japanese watch companies. To match the competition, they ventured to make the thinnest watch in the world at the time and released it in 1979. A group formed called the Swatch Group that later formed the brand Swatch. The goal was to redesign the watch from a high class, fine piece of jewelry to something that was quality but mass produced and made of plastic, resulting in an affordable, durable, disposable, well made, and fashionable watch. The Swatch watch featured fun colors and designs and became known for their creativity and sense of fun. The very name “Swatch” comes from the term “Second Watch”, implying that the new watch was one a “normal” consumer could have multiple of, a more disposable and affordable yet quality version of a timepiece. The company took off in the 1980’s and managed to revive the Swiss watch industry resulting in unprecedented success.
Today the Swatch is a piece of fashion and works in tandem with new trends and even art. See the history of Swatch featured on the Swatch Group’s site. What’s your favorite Swatch? Also, see the fantastic play off of the social movement Occupy Wall Street in a piece of Swatch artwork below: