can the swiss watchmaker survive the digital age?
Particularly ambitious is the large Tourbillon Minute repeater he created for the watch company Ateliers deMonaco he helped start.
When I visited his bright, sunny factory in Geneva, he opened a refrigerator --
Show me the size safety of one of them.
\"If you\'re looking for something that\'s really complicated, it\'s here,\" he said.
\"This watch is a gorgeous piece of platinum, including more than 400 carefully processed, polished and handmade watchesAssemble parts.
One of them is a round metal bow, struck with two small hammers, marking the timetone melodies.
Mechanism of watch
Including its \"balance wheel\", its oscillation can be seen through the opening on the surface of the watch --
Very precise, the device loses or adds only two seconds a day.
Grand Tourbillon Minute Repeater sold for just over $200,000 and Koeslag sold only 8 units.
\"A prince in Qatar has already bought three sets,\" said Koeslag, a blond man in a tight pinstriped suit.
\"Very special watches for very special people.
In the factory behind us, a dozen white people
Coated women are piecing together other watches designed by Koeslag for the mid-range watch brand Frederick constant.
These will cost up to $30,000.
A woman carefully applied a drop of pink oil with a long and thin needle, and then fixed a small needle in the appropriate position.
This is Koeslag\'s tradition of selling to his clients: patience Swiss art for manufacturing complex manual mechanisms.
However, last fall, Koeslag set foot on a completely different 21-
Century Plan: smart watches.
In response to Apple\'s plan to launch high-tech
This year Peter Stas, president of technology watch, decided that the company would produce its own products.
It will not be a minicomputer with a screen like Apple.
Instead, it will combine the functionality of the device Fitbit that tracks physical activity with the traditional Swiss watch for $1,200
Watch the French level.
A company in Silicon Valley will produce micro-sensors for counting steps and measuring sleep cycles that will be transmitted to the phone via a Bluetooth connection.
Watch can also be controlled by mobile phone-
For example, reset its hand in a different time zone.
From the outside, the watch doesn\'t look \"smart\" at all, but it will be packed with electronics.
Koeslag\'s job is to make the dreams of Swiss engineering and Silicon Valley wizards come true.
However, Koeslag is facing a major problem: he has never used chips and sensors before.
He doesn\'t even have a soldering iron.
Swiss watchmaker no need
Their equipment is installed with screws and screwdrivers.
He led me to a large microscope and put one of the chips under it.
When the image appears on the big screen, he zooms in on the Bluetooth antenna, which looks like a dark square block.
Putting it in the right place has caused him a lot of trouble, he said.
\"Under the microscope, we are actually welded by hand,\" he said . \".
In order to install it correctly, he sought advice from a colleague from a technology company.
\"I said, \'Where do I have to put this big antenna and which side do I put it on?
The technician told him that he could not do it manually;
Technology companies use robots to fix components that require this accuracy.
\"I said, \'OK, let\'s see.
In order to use it successfully, he had to scrape the tip of the soldering iron to a good position.
By January, he finally had a good working prototype, just in time to show it on the annual Swiss jeweler and watchmaker Expo Baselworld.
Watch designers usually brag about their latest \"complexity\", a clever way to power new features such as calendars or extra dials.
This year, however, Basel\'s chatter has strained Apple\'s smartwatches.
The company is producing enhanced watches, and some Swiss companies have announced similar plans.
But what does this trend mean for the industry?
Should they enter the smartwatch?
Adding chips could help these watchmakers tide over the storm.
The wave of technology, but it can also erode things that make them special.
The prospect has strained Koeslag.
The night before the show, he went to bed wearing a smart watch.
It tracks his sleep patterns.
\"I was under a lot of pressure and woke up eight times,\" he said . \"
He slept for only 25 minutes.
Many observers have predicted that Apple will cause trouble for Swiss watchmakers, and now Koeslag has some personal data to prove it.
Smart watches have been around for many years, but none of them have received so much attention like Apple watches.
Of course, the most attractive thing about Apple is its elegant design.
This is a watch with a control in-
But it has Apple\'s unique aesthetics, minimal lines and smooth curves;
The watch is essentially a smaller version of the iPhone.
Few companies can produce electronics that are so consistently smooth, because few companies sell enough equipment to justify the automation process of maintaining high quality and relatively affordable prices.
For example, in order to achieve a smooth surface on the body of the Apple Watch Sport, the company used a robotic nozzle to explode the aluminum surface with a microscopic zirconium bead.
\"No company in the world can reach Apple\'s level,\" wrote product designer Greg Koenig . \".
The design strength of the company depends to some extent on its
Batch operations like this.
Swiss watchmaking was born from a completely different background rooted in meticulous manual labor.
In the 16 th century, John Calvin persuaded the City Council of Geneva to enforce the law of the morgue banning jewelry, and the city\'s skilled jewellers joined forces with pocket watch manufacturers to start the industry.
Later, the French Catholics drove the Protestant huguenite out of France.
Many of these French exiles are watchmakers who have settled in Switzerland.
In the mountainous area of the Jura area, they met local farmers who spent half a year indoors, and the result was very patient and meticulous --oriented.
Immigrants hire them to spend their winter.
Polish tiny metal parts for \"motion\", the spring of the watch-
Drive internal work.
By the 20 th century, Swiss watches are known for their reliability and complexity.
They are also a miracle of energy efficiency because dozens or even hundreds of components are powered by tiny winding springs.
Every new \"complex\"
For example, a calendar that dates early at midnight with a satisfactory snapshot --
A new set of gears and more energy is needed, so more clever compensation is needed.
Mechanical watches are not only the dance with physics, but also the struggle with physics.
In the 1970 s, a new technology, the quartz watch, had subverted centuries of tradition.
In these devices, the current of the battery causes the quartz crystal to vibrate at a very regular frequency, running a motor that turns the watch pointer.
The resulting watches are much more accurate and cheaper than most mechanical watches.
In fact, Swiss inventors helped to create the technology, but the watchmaker thought it was not as good as them.
A quartz watch may have only a few dozen parts, while a mechanical watch may have only a few hundred parts.
Where is the challenge?
When Swiss companies refused to produce quartz devices, Japanese watches made by companies such as Seiko were popular around the world at low prices.
The \"Quartz crisis\" has killed so many Swiss watchmakers that by the end of the 1970 generation, the number of workers in the industry has been reduced from 30,000 to 90,000.
Brands that have existed for centuries have disappeared in a mess.
The Swiss company returned in the 1980 s.
Swatch has launched a range of low-priced quartz watches, followed by other Swiss companies.
In the 1990 s, as Ryan Raffaelli, a Harvard Business School professor who studied Swiss industry, wrote, Swiss watchmakers began a more profitable strategy: market their expensive mechanical watches as historic luxury goods.
If you want to hand something over to your child, the sale starts and costs thousands of dollars on Rolex, or at least, there are hundreds of quartz watches in an elegant Swiss design.
Swiss watch sales picked up;
Exports have more than doubled since 2000, and have been growing even in the years following the economic collapse.
Now, no one needs a watch to know the time.
Time is by our side and there is time on every computer, phone and microwave.
Swiss watchmakers are aware of this.
Their mechanical watches are not only accurate, but also very symbolic.
For those willing to spend $30,000, the traditional Swiss watch marks its owner as a man or woman who appreciates quality, artistry and ingenuity (
Of course, as a rich and compelling consumer).
Wearing a mechanical watch today makes it clear that an anti-digital claim contains a long history of a device that is not only earlier than a computer, but also earlier than the power itself.
It tells us time, but it is eternal.
\"A mechanical watch,\" Jean-
Claude Biver, chief executive of TAG Heuer, said, \"This is the eternity in the box.
Is the smart watch the next \"Quartz crisis?
Few Swiss executives believe smartwatches will kill the high-end market. end market.
They believe that people who spend $50,000 on a handmade timeless watch will not see the Apple Watch as a replacement.
But sales of luxury brands are also much less.
Expensive quartz watches, this is where the Apple Watch poses a threat.
\"If a young 25-year-old, a young woman, are they willing to put 1,200 Swiss francs ? \"about $1,300 —
\"For a watch that tells you the time and date, or will they buy a watch that tells you everything for $800? ” Biver said.
\"For me, there is no doubt that we will face very fierce competition in the $1,200 price area.
To compete with Silicon Valley, Switzerland needs to answer a question that is no longer just a matter of style or technology, but a problem.
Raffaelli said, \"What does it mean to be a watchmaker in the digital world?
Two years ago, Peter Stas began to think about the problem.
Among Dutch immigrants in Switzerland, Stas and his wife, Aletta, founded Fridrik constant in 1988 to produce mid-range quartz timepieces that are now threatened by Apple.
Their watches retail for $1,000 and more: \"Classic, hassle-free luxury,\" as he sits in the office surrounded by his mahogany steamboat model, he
At first, Stas considered passing and passing-
Free operating system for LCD screens, apps, Google wearables.
He consulted the design team in Portugal but did not find the concept he liked.
Power is a key issue.
The watch can only hold very small batteries, so users charge the watch every night. (
This is a complaint against the Apple Watch. )The energy-
The hungry display is turned off most of the time and activated with a flick of the wrist, but this gesture is not always successful. (
Another complaint about the Apple Watch is: you turn your wrist to view the time and the screen stays dark. )
Like most watchmakers, Stas wants his quartz watch to run on one battery for two years.
The more subtle problem is the shape of the screen.
In 2013, the only LCD display he could buy was rectangular.
Stas told me: \"in the watch industry, we actually know that the square screen is not sold to men. So if a screen
He was wondering, is there any other option based on a smartwatch that is not feasible?
Stas knows that the \"activity tracker\" wristband is very popular.
The watch is essentially a wristband, although it is more beautiful.
After searching online for the right electronics, Stas found full power Technologies, a company in Santa Cruz, California.
, Which makes the sensor and firmware active-
Trackers made by companies like Nike.
He contacted Chief Executive Philippe Kahn, who told Stas that Fullpower\'s technology could run on a watch battery for two years.
Better yet, Kahn can make mobile software for Stas.
It will analyze activity and depth
Sleep mode, so the watch\'s alarm clock can be issued at the minimum time to wake up the wearer.
The prospect of cooperation has excited Stas.
Kahn also: he hates the environmental waste of many disposable electronics and likes to build sensors into watches that are expensive enough, which will be seen as passing heir.
Unlike many electronic products today, the watch is easy to open and repair.
When Fullpower develops new sensors a few years later, owners can upgrade their Frederick constant watch with better electronics.
\"The Swiss watch industry sells tens of millions of watches every year, and they are wearable items that people tend to keep,\" Kahn told me . \".
\"I am a father and I have children and I don\'t want to leave a place where nothing is worth fixing and everything is thrown away.
They came up with an interesting concept in their pursuit of simulation design.
With the mobile app, the owner can set an activity target such as 8,000 steps a day.
The watch then shows how close you are to it, with your hands on a small auxiliary dial: for example, at 2,000 steps, the hand will point to 3 points, indicating 25%.
Eventually, dialing can quantify all sorts of data: How full is your inbox?
How close is your friend to the restaurant?
To Ronnie Burnheim. owner (
With his brother Andre.
In the watchmaker Mondaine, which authorizes some of Stas and Koeslag\'s technologies, this method is superior to the blunt precision of the screen.
As he said, the hand of a watch is \"visible\" because it is only halfaccurate;
We look at a simulated wall clock to find out the approximate time of the day, not the exact time.
\"You\'re not interested if it\'s 23% or 27%. Said Burnheim.
\"You just want to know, \'do I have to move? Or have I done a good job? \'? ’u2009” (
The French watch maker began selling a cheaper watch with similar features this spring. )
When Koeslag handed me a frenque Constant smartwatch to try it on, it had a pleasant feeling.
It doesn\'t look like a smartwatch at all;
There is no obvious electronic information. I loved it.
I\'m a fan of gadgets and even wearing an early clunky smartwatch with an LCD screen to display text and Twitter.
But Koeslag\'s stylish analog design feels like the midpoint of steampunk, the best of both worlds: a device that delivers modern information, with ancient romanceOld-fashioned dial.
Burnheim and Stas made diplomatic efforts on Apple watches.
\"We try to do good,\" Stas said . \"
But he thinks its limitations
Especially the trouble of charging every night-
Will stop some people. be owners.
\"There will be many people who will buy them.
I think the real problem is that if people still wear it, it will appear in three months, five months.
He is more skeptical that any Silicon Valley company can create aesthetic products that penetrate the European luxury market.
He leaned against his black recliner and told me: \"We have to be very clear here . \".
\"The luxury business is either from Paris or Italy, and the watch is from Switzerland.
They\'re not from America. S.
He shook his head.
My God, they wear clothes and everything!
They really don\'t have this delicate culture.
We brought something else to the story.
\"Traditional watches with hidden electronics are a solution to the smart watch challenge.
European luxury brand-Montblanc
There was another more unusual idea.
When I went to Villeret village to visit Alexander rudedt, who runs the company\'s watch business, he handed me a prototype of a smartwatch.
From the watch of Montblanc\'s \"time Walker\" series, the real watch is completely mechanical.
It does not contain circuits.
Instead, the computerized parts in the wristband. This “e-
Strap \"is characterized by a small rubber module located on the lower side of the wrist.
The module has an inch-and-a-half touch-
Screen, white text and images alert wearer to incoming calls, text messages, emails and social messagesmedia messages.
The screen can only display 16 characters at a time, so reading the message means sliding back and forth on the screen.
The internal activity sensor tracks the data and sends it to the phone. (
The module I see is a model that doesn\'t workup. )Watch and e-
With the sales of about $5,000.
\"You don\'t want to put the technology in the watch,\" says sidedt, who is tied to the timer, a handsome brushstainless-
Black steel bodyand-
The red face is surrounded by a black ceramic ring.
\"This means that after the scheduled time, the watch itself will be out of date.
At Montblanc, engineers tell a story about the dangers of high-tech, he said.
Outdated technology: At 1990 graduation ceremony, students receive gifts from their parents --
Some are the latest mobile phones and some are Montblanc pens.
Decades later, a phone in its 90 s was a useless relic.
However, Montblanc\'s pen is as good as ever;
In fact, the years give character.
\"It has a point, it has almost no scratches,\" says sidedt . \".
\"If I scratch a watch, or-
I don\'t know. My baby might have dropped it.
This is a sign of life.
He pointed out, \"our electronics are much less tolerant of failures, and when he raises his own iPhone he grinns and the screen of the iPhone is a spider --
Net bed with cracks.
Indedt believes that dividing the Montblanc smartwatch into two components may reduce interference because
The screen of the strap is usually facing away from the wearer.
\"You don\'t always see it,\" he said . \".
\"You can choose when you want to see it.
The OLED screen also maintains battery life.
Montblanc promises five days before the device needs to be charged.
Shopedt is very enthusiastic about e-commerce.
Tape, of course.
But look at this Janus device.
Analog and digital faces on the opposite side
I can\'t help but think that for Montblanc to strike a balance between a smartwatch and a mechanical device, it is more difficult than the Frederick constant or mondain.
The latter is a younger company, where Mondaine mainly sells quartz watches at affordable prices.
However, Montblanc is trying to maintain an older brand: In 2007, it acquired Minerva, a famous Swiss watch maker founded in 1858.
Minerva is known for making complex sports that are beloved by collectors and sank in the quartz crisis.
It had only 20 workers when the rebedt first walked into the Minerva factory, who produced watches for a hundred yearsold tools.
\"You really have this legacy of living, like Sleeping Beauty, as if things had stopped in time,\" he told me . \".
When I visited the factory, it was alive, quiet and careful.
In one room, a row of professional watchmakers polished individual parts.
A man in white hun is occupied by a slender stainless steel doll hun, who takes a week to shape the doll.
Next to him, a woman used a 40-fold microscope and a color microscope.
Coded Diamond board for etching 45-
Half of the oblique edge-inch-long “bridge.
Opposite the room was a master with tattoos on his left arm and elbow.
His job is to assemble the watch and make sure it works, then remove the watch, re-assemble and re-oil before the last assembly.
One of the oldest techniques nailed to the wall is the dry stems of local flowers.
I was told that it was used to polish the brass part to make it glow.
In Basel this year, high-tech chief executive Edouard Meylan)
Clock manufacturer H.
Moser has released a press release claiming he will also launch a smartwatch.
But at the Basel fair, he showed a traditional mechanical clock.
A \"calendar\" with a bold dial and 1 m shows how much energy the spring has left in it.
In a promotional video, H.
Moser called it the \"original smartwatch,\" joking that even \"our grandmothers can use it.
\"The information is clear: The watch is already smart.
He was more direct when I spoke to Melan.
He believes it is a mistake to make a smart watch, especially for elite brands.
To be sure, he said
Like many of his peers.
The Apple Watch may be successful.
\"With the right battery, it will eventually be a very useful thing that I might wear myself,\" he said . \".
But he believes that putting smart watch technology on the Swiss robot table is a brand suicide.
\"It shouldn\'t be a gimmick,\" he said . \"
\"Especially within our scope.
His company, like Montblanc and deMonaco, sells watches for tens of thousands of dollars.
They should not make \"some sort of monster that is a merger of a mobile phone and a beautiful mechanical watch.
\"What should a clock not do once it becomes a computer?
Should there be restrictions?
Is the watch just a trivial part of the smart watch function?
\"It\'s a bit scary,\" Pim Koeslag said in the work of the Frederick constant.
\"Once you enter it, you will find that this is just the beginning of the beginning.
\"His smartwatch doesn\'t have a GPS right now, but he can imagine putting it in.
\"You can put in the camera, the weather station or something.
The only limit is imagination.
TAG Heuer is a high-end brand
Plans to produce a digital version of the terminal brand of a smart watch that Silicon Valley may recognize: TAG Heer Carrera.
Engineers at TAG Heuer will design a solid case, but everything else will come from a technical partner.
Intel will make touch screens and electronics;
Google will provide Android Wear software.
The goal is to release some products that can compete with Apple on the app side by the end of this year, and there is no doubt that it is Swiss.
\"At a distance of 2 m, you wouldn\'t know, \'Is this guy wearing TAG Heer Carrera connected, or is it normal for someone wearing the chronograph Carrera?
When I visited the office of TAG Heuer, he said.
\"This will bring us the watchmaker appeal that Apple and Samsung do not have.
\"Biver is a famous talkative, opinionated figure, prone to gorgeous statements and poetic fragments in the beauty of the clock.
He wears one from Hublot (
Another luxury brand he\'s in charge).
He said the design of the Apple Watch was \"not very sexy \".
\"There is not enough emotion,\" he said . \"
\"This is just a reduction in the wrist phone.
However, it is fair to ask how \"Swiss\" his watch will be \".
As several observers have told me, it\'s like Intel --and-Google watch.
\"Where is your value? add?
Asked Amy gramerer, an M. I. T.
A professor in the watch industry.
Swiss watchmakers will need to create their own high, she added
Intellectual property rights of smart watches.
\"Otherwise,\" she said, \"all they get is the use of their names.
This is not the use of their human capital.
Harvard Professor Raffaelli is more optimistic.
Swiss watchmakers may promote their former industrial history, but they have always been experts in innovation, he said.
All these Mechanical properties
It is the transformative high technology of their time.
The clock itself is the first step towards a \"quantified self\", making the previously hidden visible information a precise progression of your day.
Even if the Swiss smartwatch will never take off, many of the watch executives I \'ve interviewed have said that Apple watches may be good for high sales
Mechanical watches. Why?
Because a generation of Americans have no habit of wearing watches.
Apple is now spending millions to convince young consumers
Those who don\'t look at the watch but \"I\'m on the road\" to coordinate life!
\"SMS and share Google Calendar events-
A watch can be useful and stylish again.
\"Many young people who will never wear things on their wrists, they will start to wear things on their wrists, which is a connected watch,\" Biver said . \".
Developed the habit of looking down, maybe they will eventually decide to change the old equipment --
In a sense, it is a machine outside of time.