The United States
The quartz revolution revitalized the U.S. watch industry.
Before the quartz revolution, the American watch industry was
in a slump. Although the U.S. had been a strong competitor in
the international watch market since the 1870s, many American
companies had gone out of business or had been bought out by foreign
interests by the 1960s. This situation improved with the invention of the
quartz watch in 1969. The U.S. took the technological lead
in developing the new quartz watches thanks to microelectronics
research for military and space programs.
Price wars forced many competitors out of business.
Even though Swiss and Japanese inventors were developing quartz
capabilities of their own, it was the new U.S. semiconductor companies--Texas
Instruments, Fairchild, and National Semiconductor, for examples--that
started mass production of digital quartz watches. Competition among these companies
quickly forced prices down. The traditional U.S.
watch companies that had survived the lean years after World War
II were unable to compete and further declined in number.
The U.S. lost its lead to countries with cheaper labor supplies.
The U.S. lead was short-lived. Countries with cheap labor supplies,
like Hong Kong, began mass-production of cheap quartz watches
and flooded the market. The American semiconductor companies
that had survived their own price wars at home now dropped out
of the watch business completely.