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Hamilton Khaki Pioneer Pilot by the trunk of an white pine tree in the snow. Photo by Keith Lehman.

The Élégante movement

Artwork by Yujin Bronner

Save Your Energy: An Insider's Look at F.P. Journe: Part 6

 

Feature Article: Pierre Halimi 9/19/16

How can François-Paul Journe justify making a quartz watch when he is considered to be one of the greatest watchmakers alive? Simple: Perspective! Or, more to the point, how could he not? Watchmaking history had a major breakthrough when the quartz movement was invented; even Abraham-Louis Breguet would have jumped on this system if he would have had the know-how. Quartz movements are not as recent a development as many people think. The first quartz clock was built in 1927 by Warren Marrison and J. W. Horton at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Large and impractical in use, it nonetheless offered superior accuracy. Note that the first Swiss quartz clock came after World War II, followed in 1969 by the first quartz wristwatch movement, Caliber 35A, Nr. 00234, from Seiko in Japan. [...]

Prior to the 1970s the Swiss watch industry owned 50 percent of the world market, but when the quartz revolution started, its market share dropped. Unlike mechanical watches, quartz watches have fewer moving parts and have advantages in precision and maintenance. Powered by a battery instead of a spring, the quartz watch proved to be economical and eventually cheaper to make.

 

American and Japanese companies took advantage of the latest technology and started mass-producing quartz watches in the 1970s. Seiko unveiled the first quartz watch, the Seiko Quartz Astron, in 1969. It took only nine years for quartz watches to become more popular than mechanical watches, and the Swiss watch industry consequentially fell behind. [...]

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