This is Superlative: A podcast about watches, the people behind them and the worlds that inspire them. This week, our host and founder of aBlogtoWatch, Ariel Adams, is joined by Pierre-Yves Donzé, author of the book The Business of Time. To kick off the show, Ariel asks Pierre a little about his background, before getting into the details of why today’s watch brands are focusing on taking credit for innovation and manufacturing efficiency. From there, the two delve into the beginnings of the Swiss watchmaking industry, back from its rebirth during the 1980s, and take a closer look at how the concept of “Swiss Made” eventually became something of pride. From the American approach to industrial watchmaking to increasing competition. After Pierre outlines some of the key differences between the luxury watch industry’s big three parent groups (Swatch, LVMH and Richemont), the two detail the Swiss watch industry’s response to the growing challenge of America’s industrialized approach to timepiece production.
After briefly covering some of the main differences between Swiss and American watches in the early days of industrial watchmaking, the discussion turns to the democratization of personal timekeeping and the role it actually played in people’s lives. After exploring the various ways in which modern manufacturing methods have provided acceptable quality and relatively accurate timekeeping performance for almost any modern wristwatch, the conversation turns to how it has overtaken the pocketwatch as the go-to timepiece for consumers. Different responses occurred in the Swiss and American markets. With the original American watchmaking industry extinct and Switzerland now considered the watch capital of the world, Ariel and Pierre conclude the presentation by going over the decline of the American watchmaking industry and some of the reasons behind it.
Stay up to date with Pierre-Yves Donzé:
- 00:50 – Pierre’s background and his book, “The Business of Time.”
- 05:04 — Why are watch brands focusing on taking credit for innovation and technology?
- 09:01 – Keeping the watch industry honest.
- 11:38 — Watchmaking in the 1980s and how this period marked a turning point for the industry.
- 16:42 — Key differences between Swatch Group, LVMH and Richemont.
- 27:10 – The birth of the Swiss watch industry.
- 31:06 — How “Swiss Made” Became Pride and Competition in the American Watchmaking Industry.
- 39:36 – The Swiss watch industry’s response to America’s industrialized approach to timepiece manufacturing.
- 44:35 – Differences between Swiss and American watches in the early days of industrial watchmaking.
- 47:00 – The democratization of personal timekeeping and its role as a first-looker in people’s lives.
- 53:20 — Reasonable quality and performance are almost a given in the modern watchmaking industry.
- 54:42 – The rise of the wristwatch and the different reactions in the Swiss and American markets.
- 59:36 – The decline of the American watchmaking industry and the reasons behind it.
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