The name “Jaquet Droz” has had many different meanings since the birth of Pierre Jaquet-Droz 300 years ago. For two decades after its formation in 1961, the Coopérative de Fabricants Suisses d’Horlogerie and SAH were leading producers of Swiss watches, commanding a double-digit share of exports and revenue. Was this a success or a failure? And why does the modern haute horology company consistently skip any mention of this history?
The Swatch brand dates to 1983 and is well known for a successful range of affordable Swiss watches. But Swatch Group is much larger, owning the majority of Swiss watch component production as well as brands from Omega to Tissot.
I’m going to kick off my “watch a day” series with a most unlikely timepiece: Swatch’s 2014 Sistem51. Now that the newness has worn off, I see my little red plastic wonder for what it is: A traditional plastic Swatch with a nice little secret inside. It’s not a revolutionary timepiece or really all that special at all. But I enjoyed learning about it and hunting for one of the first in the USA. And, most importantly, I enjoy wearing it.
Swatch is perhaps the most famous brand of Swiss watch (sorry, Rolex!) but they’re not known for luxury timepieces of high horology. No, Swatch is the brand that saved the Swiss industry, sold millions of watches, became a cultural touchpoint, and enabled the most powerful and profitable watch cartel the world has even known. That’s why this watch is so surprising!
Let’s see how many watch enthusiast hot-buttons I can press… Glashütte? Platinum? Chronograph? Limited Edition? Sized for modern wrists (but not giant)? How about all this for a $16k auction starting bid?