Quartz Shakes Up The Watchmaking World

The 19th century was marked by innovations that propelled new nations to the forefront of the watchmaking scene. These are electricity and quartz.

Electricity Makes Its Debut In Watchmaking.

It all started a little over a century ago, with advances and discoveries in electricity. By taking an interest in quartz, the two French physicists Pierre and Jacques Curie, discovered an interesting peculiarity of the mineral. This is its piezoelectric effect. Under certain pressure, it can generate electricity. We were in 1880.

It was not until 1927 that this peculiarity of quartz was used in watchmaking. Warren Morrison and JW Horton then made the first quartz clock. It is a massive achievement. How does a quartz clockwork? Thanks to the properties of the mineral, an integrated circuit coupled with an oscillator that defines the time constitutes the mechanism.

The quartz craze in the 1960s

Although wristwatches were very popular at that time, it was not yet possible to exploit quartz until the late 1940s. Samuel Ruben and Philip Rogers Mallory then present the first miniature electric batteries.

In the Sixties, it is the race for the quartz watch. After the launch of the American electronic watch Bulova, Swiss watchmaking reacted with the creation of the CEH. This electronic watchmaking center, located in Neufchâtel, was founded by the Swiss Watchmaking Federation. In 1967, the CEH announced the finalization of two prototypes of quartz watches.

Despite this enthusiasm, the Swiss watch industry is again taken by surprise by a surprising new competitor.

Christmas 1969: The Marketing Of The First Quartz Watch

While the descendants of the Swiss prototypes did not come out until 1970, they were overtaken, which was not by the Americans.

On December 25, 1969, the Japanese from Seiko chose to put their quartz watch on the world market. The now-famous “Astron 35SQ” quartz watch only existed in 100 copies and cost an astronomical sum. It is an analog watch that comes in a gold case. It has a precision of one minute per year, which at the time was revolutionary. The copies sold out in less than a week.

Seiko does not skimp on innovations and then sets out to tackle digital. In 1973, the company sold quartz watches with an LCD (liquid crystal display).

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