The atrocious evolution of luxury watches


Back in the In the late 1960s, even the most discerning observer could not have predicted the havoc that quartz technology would wreak on the Swiss watch industry. The arrival of the electronic wristwatch was so revolutionary, then devastating, that the era is still called the Quartz Crisis in Switzerland.

Once bitten, twice shy. Today, having reinvented the traditional mechanical watch as a luxury timepiece and building a huge industry on its back, Swiss brands are engaged in a whole new arms race among themselves. Watch movements are becoming more precise, more reliable and more durable. Put simply, the mechanical watch is improving on all fronts with marginal gains, progressively advancing towards practicality and durability in the real world.

Photography: Omega

It’s an idea dear to the heart of Rolf Studer, co-CEO of independent brand Oris, a company with a clever industrialization pedigree. Last November, Oris launched an automatic movement, the Caliber 400, which could be considered the poster child of this third wave of watchmaking. Powering select diver’s and aviator’s watches for under £ 3,000, it offers significant improvements in accuracy, power reserve, magnetic resistance and longevity over industry standard ‘tractor’ movements. on which Oris has historically relied.

“It’s a movement with a purpose,” says Studer, who describes a five-year R&D process improving everything from the geometry of the sprockets to the efficiency of the winding system. “By defining a few things and setting a new standard for everyone, Caliber 400 responds directly to customer needs. It adapts to all situations of everyday life.

With full wind, it will run for five days (120 hours), where 40 to 42 hours was once the norm. Even more impressively, Oris claims that watches containing the Caliber 400 can be worn for a full decade before needing service, which is backed by a 10-year warranty, which compares to a standard warranty of only two years and recommended service intervals of four. or five years.


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