The Swatch Watch

The popular 80s brand of watches known as the Swatch was originally created in which country?

And the answer: Switzerland.  

Photo credit: Vintagetopia.com

The invention of the Swatch, which is short for "second watch," was a response from the Swiss to the quartz crisis that occurred in the 1970s, when the popularity of quartz watches from Japan threatened the Swiss watch-making industry. Swatches were created as a low-cost and high-tech fashion accessory, and soon became popular worldwide.

In 1980, the Swiss watch industry was under fire. Competing with Japanese-made Seiko watches, which were light as a feather, sleek, and state-of-the-art (their slogan, infamously, read: "Someday all watches will be made this way"), the Swiss watch industry was desperate for a revelation. And, thanks to the savvy of several Swiss and American developers, their revelation came: a fashion watch.

For most of recorded history, humans have found a way to keep time. The practice of watch wearing or keeping pocket watches dates back centuries. But it wasn't until Swatch that wearing watches could be worth something beyond function or technological accuracy – with Swatch, wearing a watch became a means of expressing one's own style. Coming in all kinds of shapes and sizes (but still maintaining that quick, quartz center and light style), Swatch created colorful, everyday watches at affordable prices. Soon, Swatch was dominating the watch competition.

Swatch had a simple, profitable model: create watches that were so trendy and affordable that the consumer had to get at least a few. Nicolas Hayek, the CEO, lived by the Swatch philosophy: "Innovation, provocation, fun, forever." (Sold yet?)

While the eccentric, colorful Swatch designs may have fallen out of style, the fashion watch industry is major business enterprise that earns billions every year. Learn more here.


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