Zenith was “the first manufacture”, one of the greatest watch companies in Switzerland, and the economic force behind Le Locle. Then it was purchased by an American electronics company and ordered to destroy its mechanical watchmaking assets. This is the story of the mighty Zenith, brought low, and returning thanks to a machine tools baron, a humble watchmaker, and two other famous brands.
On November 7, 1984, Gérald Genta finally went too far. His audacious new watch collection was a scandal at the prestigious Montres et Bijoux and he was forced to remove it from the fair. But history shows that Genta was right again, and his designs laid the foundation of today’s luxury watch industry.
Photovoltaic cells were invented in the 1940s, and Patek Philippe produced a novel clock that used them. Once integrated circuit technology improved enough to build a quartz watch, American inventor Roger Riehl created the first solar-powered watch. His Synchronar paved the way for the solar digital watches that brought the technology to the masses in the 1970s. Then there was Uranus, with their wild calculator watch!
It’s rare to find a watch that is universally desirable and pricey yet still common. Such is the case with the Rolex “Double Red” Sea Dweller, a proper tool watch, investment, and status symbol. Even more unusual, this watch comes from the 1970’s, the era of the collapse of the Swiss watch industry and many truly horrible designs. Yet it is so iconic, so sought-after, and so recognizable that prices continue to vault upwards!
Not everyone likes the Royal Oak, but it’s hard to understate its importance. It’s one of the most influential watches of the last half-century, creating a whole new niche that now accounts for much of the industry’s sales: Luxury sports.