Switzerland had long been the world leader in watch production
and sales. With a host of well-known brands extending from economical to luxury products, Swiss watchmakers had enjoyed a reputation of fine craftsmanship.
The Swiss invented the world's first quartz watch, but did not immediately capitalize on their invention.
In 1962 the Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) formed to
develop electronic watches. The key results were the world's first
quartz watch prototypes, which were presented in 1967. The first manufactured product, the Beta 21,
was developed and produced in 1968/9 and was commercially available in April 1970.
Despite this headstart, the Swiss watch industry as a whole failed
to see the enormous market potential of the quartz watch. Sure
of their leadership, they focused instead on improving the existing
The Swiss watch industry eventually recovered from the
effects of the quartz revolution.
Together with world economic recession, the quartz revolution forced the Swiss watch industry to make structural changes. While the number of Swiss watch companies dropped from about 1600 in 1970 to 600 today, the introduction of new technologies and modern production facilities, combined with new products and marketing strategies ultimately brought renewed success. The total export value of Swiss watches grew from 2.6 billion Swiss francs in 1970 to 8.1 billion Swiss francs in 1997, and today Switzerland continues to be the world's leading watch exporter in terms of total value. The success of Swatch undoubtedly helped to sustain this recovery.
For more information about swiss watches visit the Federation of the Swiss Watchmaking Industry website at http://www.fhs.ch
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