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      01-09-2014, 11:07 PM   #1
tony20009
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The British and Watches

Why the British never got into watchmaking the way they did making automobiles?

They couldn't find a way to make them leak oil.



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      01-10-2014, 12:00 AM   #2
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Nice!
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      01-10-2014, 12:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Why the British never got into watchmaking...
There is some horological history there, particularly back in the day. A few examples:

1) Invention of the first true chronometer (by John Harrison in the 1700s)

2) Rolex was founded in London in 1905 (they later moved to Geneva in 1919)

3) George Daniels was considered by many to be the best horologist in the world during his lifetime, and was famous for creating the co-axial escapement.

Karl.
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      01-10-2014, 01:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjk_glynn View Post
There is some horological history there, particularly back in the day. A few examples:

1) Invention of the first true chronometer (by John Harrison in the 1700s)

2) Rolex was founded in London in 1905 (they later moved to Geneva in 1919)

3) George Daniels was considered by many to be the best horologist in the world during his lifetime, and was famous for creating the co-axial escapement.

Karl.

My understanding of the Rolex story differs a bit from what you've presented:
  • 1905 - Wilsdorf and Davis was founded in London.
  • 1908 -
    • The Willsdorf and Davis company sets up shop in La Chaux de Fonds and begins to sell Rolex branded watches.
    • The name Rolex was created out of thin air in Jully and registered in Switzerland.
  • 1912 - Rolex trademark registered in England.
  • 1919 -
    • Willsdorf & Davis t/a Rolex purchases a share of the Aegler company and names itself Aegler S.A. Rolex Watch Company
    • Willsdorf buys out Davis.
    • The name Montres Rolex S.A. is registered in Switzerland.
    • All production moves to Switzerland, cases in Geneva and movements in Biel.
There's no dearth of murk and ample room for error and confusion. The reason is that between 1908 and 1919, Willsdorf had all sorts of production taking place in all sorts of places. They bought cases from one company and movements from another and assembled them into watches in yet another locale.

All the best.
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      01-10-2014, 08:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Why the British never got into watchmaking the way they did making automobiles?

They couldn't find a way to make them leak oil.

That's just not true




















We can find ways to make anything leak oil


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      01-10-2014, 12:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeeRam View Post
That's just not true
We can find ways to make anything leak oil
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      02-02-2014, 07:57 PM   #7
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I recently read on the Internet that 1 in 7 Britons can't tell time using an analog watch. The study/survey didn't indicate whether or not that represented an improvement. LOL

All the best.
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      02-02-2014, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
I recently read on the Internet that 1 in 7 Britons can't tell time using an analog watch. The study/survey didn't indicate whether or not that represented an improvement. LOL

All the best.
Shouldn't you be drinking beer and watching football?
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      02-02-2014, 11:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 1MOREMOD View Post
Shouldn't you be drinking beer and watching football?
No. I am having a wonderful day in Paris. I am also specifically boycotting the Superbowl until the Redskins are in it again.

I figure that'll afford me at least four hours of free time around this time of year for the next lustrum or so at least. That amount to nearly one whole day of my life spent doing something other than watch two teams for which I care not battle over an brown, oblong balloon.

The best commercials along with the halftime show will be on YouTube and CNN tomorrow so I won't miss that.

All the best.

PS
If someone in my family were on one of the teams, Redskins or not, I'd watch the game. Hell, I'd probably attend the game.
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      02-02-2014, 11:50 PM   #10
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You might be waiting a while for the redskins to be there again. Can't complain about paris, or my hawks winning it all.
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      02-03-2014, 02:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 1MOREMOD View Post
You might be waiting a while for the redskins to be there again. Can't complain about paris, or my hawks winning it all.
I know that's right. I've actually pondered whether I will actually live to see the day...LOL.

All the best.

Glad your team won. What new watch or car mod are you buying with your winnings?

All the best.
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      02-03-2014, 03:37 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
I know that's right. I've actually pondered whether I will actually live to see the day...LOL.

All the best.

Glad your team won. What new watch or car mod are you buying with your winnings?

All the best.
Bought a trailer for my track car and very happy with the stowa. Have it on today and has been my primary watch since arrival.
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      02-10-2014, 01:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony20009 View Post
Why the British never got into watchmaking the way they did making automobiles?

They couldn't find a way to make them leak oil.



All the best.
And the Americans are well known for their watches?

The UK is still the centre of the world or otherwise the Zulu time wouldn't be based on GMT!
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      02-10-2014, 01:27 PM   #14
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Funny how two of the best Swiss watch companies where not even started by the Swiss.
Rolex= English
Patek Philippe= Polish/French
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      02-11-2014, 01:50 PM   #15
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Funny how two of the best Swiss watch companies where not even started by the Swiss.
Rolex= English
Patek Philippe= Polish/French
I'm certainly aware of several notable U.K. watchmakers -- the McGonigle Brothers' (sp?), Roger Smith, Stephen Forsey and Peter Speake-Marin -- all of whose work is first rate. So please know that my whole basis for the thread is just because the initial joke was funny, and not because I think the U.K. hasn't any high quality watches or watchmakers. Even Christopher Ward make very nice watches, although not in the league of the McG. Brothers. Even looking at the history of watches, one sees that the U.K. had very talented craftsmen. John Arnold (Arnold & Son) being one of my favorites.

Certainly Wilsdorf was English and he was a watchmaker, but quite frankly, I think he was a better businessman than he was watchmaker. That's not a dig, at least I don't mean it to be, but consider that in its nascence, Rolex did exactly what many a watch company does today. They purchased parts and assembled them. Even as they started making their own products, they chose a German, not a Swiss as their business partner and movement maker.

The truth is that the superiority of the Swiss in watchmaking is a relatively recent thing, coming to be only in the 1900s. Prior to then, nearly every European country had great and "globally" respected craftsmen. One very significant factor that allowed the Swiss to grab the lead in watchmaking was WWI. The Swiss were neutral and that meant that goods made in in Switzerland could be exported to the combatants on either side of the conflict and that combatants from either side could go to Switzerland to take a break from the fighting as well as to deposit funds in Swiss banks. It's no wonder why the Swiss were keen to keep account ownership secret.

Prior to WWI, however, people had enough sense to know that the nationality of the maker and dirt upon which a thing was made had nothing at all to do with the quality of the thing itself. The fallacy that the Swiss are the only ones who make a fine watch is a modern "ism" that was fostered by the Swiss government and the companies that in Switzerland making watches. Of course, both groups have a vested interest in letting such a fallacy persist and grow, even as they recognize it is just that. Even today, it's not true, but it is true that the majority of the best watchmakers are based in Switzerland. And why not? They moved there during the WWI era; it hardly made sense to spend more money again to move back to their original countries. Business being what it is, it's often far easier to just go with the prevailing tide -- in this case, the tide of perception that the Swiss know something nobody else does about watchmaking.

Another factor is trademark law, and particularly Switzerland's. Trademark law isn't a new thing. In the 19th century, the Swiss had laws about what could be labelled "Swiss" or "Swiss Made." Those laws were made stronger still around the 1980s when the quartz crisis occurred. There's little doubt that the beefed up standards were a specific response to a far more globalize economy, one in which it was very clear to the Swiss government that there was no way they could expect to retain a significant portion of their manufacturing industry when China and other countries had such vastly lower labor costs. The simple fact is that the Swiss took advantage of two main things:
  • Perception regarding Chinese made watches - At the time, the perception (and note, it was just that a perception, not a foregone conclusion) was that the less expensive goods coming from China were also less poorly made. One has to remember that marketers know that consumers associate price with quality. So long as the quality is good enough that the average consumer can't really tell if there's a material difference between "well made item A" and "well made item B", both makers, A and B, can charge a high price, even a very similar price, regardless of which one is, provided one of them is, actually the higher quality product.

    Side Note: (Some pics are below)
    Today, the Chinese produce quality watches at just about all price points. At the low end, there are actually very inexpensive fake (fraudulent by Western trademark law) that perform as well -- both keeping time and in case/bracelet construction -- as practically any typical consumer would expect from any watch. No, they aren't going to meet chronometer standards, but then most folks don't demand chronometer levels of precision, consistency and accuracy. At the top end is Beijing Watch and Fiyta. There are several in between, and all are far, far more affordable than their Swiss competitors. The ones I'm aware of that are worth considering are:
    • The Chinese Timekeeper
    • Peacock (you'll need to use your browser's translate feature for their website)
    • Memorigin - If you are a Batman junkie, these folks have a watch just for you
    • Longio
    • Sea-gull
    • Temporis
The above brands offer great watches priced from a few hundred dollars to multiple thousands of dollars, but all are priced well below the Swiss and German equivalents. I would certainly suggest you take a look at their offerings. Many of them are quite handsome. If you just want a tourbillion and aren't willing to spend $40K+ to get one from a European makers, these brands are well worth considering.

The value proposition cannot be beaten and since it's well established now that a tourbillion doesn't do a damn thing to improve the accuracy and precision of a wrist watch, there's little reason for a basic watch buyer or casual collector not to appreciate and/or buy these products. And let's face facts, unless one is buying a one of a kind (or one of half a dozen or fewer) watch, one is basically a casual collector. If you need "snob appeal," these probably aren't going to be watches for you, at least not until the prices go up and the rest of the general public knows what really good values they are. Such is life; you can't have snob value and get in the game ahead of most folks.
  • Perception regarding Swiss made watches - By the 1970s and 1980s, the dominance of Swiss watches had been established in the minds of consumers. It was certainly true that the Swiss really didn't (and still don't) make junk watches, and that made it easy for the average consumer to just pick one and feel confident that it was made well enough that they could expect it to work to a satisfactory degree. The same wasn't necessarily so for the watches made in other countries, but certainly there were other countries producing watches that were as well made as anything coming from Switzerland.
There's no way to deny that the law worked and it worked far better than anyone could have hoped. This law protects the Swiss mechanical watch industry by preventing companies from labeling watches "Swiss" with just a tiny bit of Swiss manufacturing involvement. If one takes a look at the law, one its major impacts is that it unequivocally requires that a watch's movement be made in Switzerland for the watch to be labeled "Swiss Made." As the most complex component of a watch, and thus most beneficial to having a highly paid workforce, is the movement, it's no wonder that the law is written to require the movement be made in Switzerland.

The law also caused many a non-Swiss watchmaker (the actual men and women making watches) to move to and/or establish their companies in Switzerland even when the main person behind the brand isn't Swiss. In addition to all the unknown men and women who work in factories and ateliers in Switzerland and outside Switzerland, there are also the big names in the industry. Martin Braun (DE), George Daniels (FR), Daniel Roth (FR), F. P. Journe (FR), Christophe Claret (FR), and the Groenfeld brothers (NL) are but a few of those globally known and talented makers, in addition to the ones noted at the outset of this post.

If the preceding wasn't enough, I just want to be clear that I do not believe, for any given watch, that where it is made has a damn thing to do with whether it is a quality piece. That is a judgment I make only on a watch by watch basis and I strongly encourage anyone buying watches to do the same.

All the best.

Memorigin



Longio



Fiyta - One of the most easy to deal with Chinese websites I've come across.

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