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Swatch: The colorful toy has revived the Swiss watch industry


In the late 1980s, in the early 90s, out of the store the clock began to appear strange items. Instead of metal, steel to gold watches with designs that have been in existence for almost a hundred years for traditional customers, they are colorful, fresh and, with no other words, strange. . Instead of a few thousand dollars, it only costs 30 USD, made of plastic and has many different face designs. Yet the customers standing in front of the shops still bought them so much that the shop owners were forced to make the rules: Each person could only buy one.




And then something strange happened. Instead of being an expensive watch, saving years to buy and keeping them for a lifetime, Swatch is the right price for a toy in the store. People buy a Swatch, use it for a few weeks, then come back and buy another two. It is like an accessory that can change everyday. Limited edition Swatches now cost thousands on the free market, people are willing to give up on buying a plastic watch because they could not buy it before.

More importantly, Swatch is the savior of the Swiss watch village when the storm of cheap quartz watches almost makes them disappear from the market.



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In order to understand why Swatch was so successful in terms of image, it might be necessary to look back at the 70s market. The Swiss watch, which was once considered a gold standard, gradually became short of breath before the Japanese with quartz watches, cheap, probably too cheap for consumers. A Casio's F91W only cost 10 dollars, now doesn't lose to any automatic mechanical watch. Faced with the option of buying cheap electronic watches and an expensive high-end watch, many seek out the first option.

The Swiss stand, many companies have to close, many people lose their jobs.



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Fortunately there is still a bright door for the Swiss watch industry. ETA SA, the company that manufactures mechanical watches, is led by Ernst Thomke who has invested in a plastic molding machine and used by Elmar Mock engineers. Mock and his colleague Jacque Muller spent 15 months creating a plastic watch with two shells sealed. It is this process that proves that Swiss watches can be created on automatic lines instead of taking up a lot of time at the hands of artists like tradition a few hundred years ago. This watch only needs to use 51 different components instead of 91 like other mechanical watches. And, Thomke, Mock and Muller have created a watch that is both durable and cheap.



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The problem now is how to make consumers choose a Swiss Swiss watch instead of a Japanese quartz watch. Thomke knew that the "Swiss watch" was still a popular concept. Along with Nicholas Hayek, who was later Swatch Group CEO, Thomke believed that they had solved the problem to revive the Swiss watch industry.

The first Swatch watch was sold in Zurich in March 1983.



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Immediately, another problem arises. Because of the manufacturing process, the Swatch watches are identical in shape and design. How to make it stand out? The answer is design. The Swatch brand itself is devised by shorthanding the phrase "secondary watch", and they want to turn the watch like a fashion accessory like a belt, tie or earring. No one owns only a tie or a pair of shoes. They have a few items to change. Thomke and Hayek believe that the watch should be the same.



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Under the help of marketing expert Franz Sprecher, Swatch started to shop with colorful watches, with diverse designs. They are created for costumes. A black Swatch goes to work every day with a business suit and a flashy color to play is something you can buy for only 30 to 40 dollars. That was the plan, but when the shops received plastic watches, they didn't know what to do with them. Swatch needs an advertising campaign.



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That's when Max Imgruth came out. Thanks to his campaign, Swatch had a turnover of 3 million USD in 1984 to 105 million USD in 1985. Thanks to the ads in magazines, on television, Swatch succeeded in penetrating into fashion market. And the collectors surprise Swatch, they are willing to spend all their Swatch on the market.

Therefore, in order for the collection to change constantly, Swatch relies on the help of their fellow designers, from Kiki Picasso to Keith Haring. In addition to the 90s sneaker fever, Swatch watches are also what describe each person's own taste. Both the watch face and the wire can add graphics, so its potential is almost limitless. Similar to that is the purchasing power of the market.



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And then, Swatch became the largest Swiss watch group. They are Omega, Blancpain, Rado, Tissot, Longines, names familiar to you.



P.W

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