Today, Geneva is the capital of watchmaking. One of the most important watchmaking cities. Before Geneva became synonymous with watchmaking, it was a powerful jewel empire. In the early fifteenth century, jewelers made enamel jewelery in Geneva. However, in the mid-1500s, jewelry production in Geneva suddenly stopped. Religious reformer John Calvin believed in his namesake, Calvinism, and saw jewelry as a form of paganism. In Geneva he banned jewelry making and jewelery wear. As a result, trades had to find new ways to use their abilities. Many of them have worked in watchmaking and the history of fine arts began in Geneva.
Quickly Expanding the Clock Industry
The change in the religious movement in Switzerland was not the only thing that gave Geneva watchmaking skills. At the same time, a number of French Protestants escaped persecution in France and developed their watchmaking skills by coming to Geneva. In 1601, the Genevan Watchmaker Companies Foundation was founded and submitted apprenticeships to become a master watchmaker. As a result, there were about 600 master watchmakers living in Geneva until 1760. In just three years, Geneva exported more than 60,000 hours each year.
In the late 1700s, there was a period of uncertainty for the flourishing Swiss industry. The French Revolution disrupted the flow of production and other cities tried to rival Geneva to reorganize its production facilities. Europe was also in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. This led to the first mechanization of watchmaking that created a separation in the industry. Some preferred to produce with new technologies, while others continued to produce old watches, while maintaining the tradition of handmade watchmaking.
Being a Trademark of Precision and Quality
The struggle for industrialization continued in the 1800s. More and more competitors outside Europe have threatened the Swiss market this time. However, compared to other European countries, such as France and England, Switzerland began to adopt mass production more easily. As a result, they managed to remain competitive in an ever-changing industry. In addition, Switzerland has developed a more efficient production division. Although cities like Geneva are more crowded and urban in nature, they are not as crowded as other European cities. Switzerland had a unique decentralized structure consisting of a series of small city centers. In each one, different companies would produce different clock parts. Later, larger companies in cities such as Geneva collect and sell these parts.
Another important moment in the history of Geneva’s watchmaking came in 1886. That year, the Geneva seal gained legal status. This prestigious brand was the first concrete symbol of the unmatched quality of the Geneva watches. To get the seal, the manufacturers had to send their watches to the shoemaking school in the city for examination.
Rise of Wrist Watches: Modernization and Harmony
Soon, the watch industry experienced one of the greatest changes in its history. The First World War encouraged the transition from pocket watches to wristwatches. Before the war, people saw wristwatches as jewelry for women. However, the brutality of the trench battles required the use of wristwatches. After the war, wristwatches gained a new reputation in relation to the strength and courage of military personnel. Once again, manufacturers in Geneva had to adjust the clocks.
Between the two world wars, watchmaking in Geneva continued to develop. Industrialization continued and larger factories began to leave smaller workshops unemployed. This industrialization has also led to changes in the Geneva School of Watchmaking, allowing them to modernize their teaching approach. In addition, with the development of trade began to grow in Geneva. As a result, the city began to change from a production center to a sales center. This transformation ultimately consolidated the position of Geneva as the world capital of luxury watches after the Second World War.
Geneva Today: Protecting the Value of Luxury Watchmaking
After World War II, watchmaking reached its peak in Geneva. However, most of the developing companies nowadays do not exist anymore. After several decades of success between 1945 and 1975, the watchmaking industry experienced its next major change, the quartz crisis. The quartz madness has undeniably shaken the watchmaking industry. Ultimately, however, it allowed the full luxury of the industry to emerge, including the haute horlogerie. Companies that can manage the Quartz Crisis have grown stronger than ever. It led to a new marketing strategy with emphasis on history and tradition.
Today, we continue to see this focus from watchmakers in Geneva and in the sector. In the face of modern challenges, like the rise of smartwatches, the luxury watch industry is rooted. Continue to emphasize the value of the art form