What is a Swiss Movement and why should you care?
We have all heard about the amazing quality of Swiss watches and most of us know that it’s an old industry in Switzerland. But do you know why? Or why it matters that you buy a Swiss movement watch? This explains the value of Swiss movements and why Smith & Bradley exclusively uses them.
History of Swiss Watches
The wristwatch is actually a fairly recent phenomenon, especially a men’s wrist watch. First there was the pocket watch. And that’s where the Swiss technology came into play. A German, Peter Henlein created the first pocket watch, or miniature watch, in the early 1500’s.
Where the Swiss come into the story is with the Reformation. When Jean Calvin decided that ‘ornamental objects’ should not be worn (apparently it was ungodly), the Swiss jewelers needed something to keep their businesses going. They started creating pocket watches, which were useful and not just ornamental.
Over the next 100 years, the Swiss made huge technological advances in watches. And, as they improved, other countries started importing rather than competing with the Swiss. Patek Philippe became one of the early branded watchmakers in Switzerland and helped push the craft forward.
What about Wrist Watches
Originally called “bracelet timepieces” and a women’s item, wrist watches we ignored by men in favor of pocket watches. But this all changed in the 1900’s, specifically with the world wars. A man in a trench doesn’t have the luxury of wearing a pocket around. And it’s essentially useless in battle. So these men began utilizing wrist watches to be able to quickly see the time. Note that they wore these watches inside their wrists.
The 1900’s became a breakthrough for men’s wrist watches. In the first half of the century, popularity of wrist watches went in and out. However, in the last half they became the dominant timepiece for men.
Swiss Watch Movements are still the best
Since the early 1600’s, Swiss movements have been considered superior to others. There’s several reasons why the Swiss continue to make the best movements. This is a key industry for Switzerland and they have really smart industrial designers focused on watches. Their technology continues to be ahead of everyone else’s. And they tend to invent new capabilities – like the chronograph – before anyone else.
Swiss watches are special. They:
- Keep time better than any other current manufacturer. Including the Japanese.
- Efficiently use battery power (for Quartz) or movement power (for Automatics)
- Are designed to be fixable and replaceable. Easier to work on.
- Have standardized sizing and quality standards.
The first factor is the main reason. We are building tactical watches for men in active situations. Less than perfect timekeeping is unacceptable. And efficient use of power matters a lot as well. You don’t want a watch that burns through a battery every year or two.
Smith & Bradley uses Swiss Movements
The Swiss continue to have the best technology for watch building. And their watches last longer and keep time more perfectly than anyone else. When we’re building a Smith & Bradley watch, we focus intently on high quality components to build watches that last a lifetime.
When we build an Automatic watch, we usually choose a Swiss Sellita Automatic movement. In Quartz watches we default to Swiss Ronda movements. Both are excellent, well built Swiss movements. Both give us the high quality watches that we believe our customers deserve.