Smart-Watch Manufacturers are Dominating the Market in 20–21
Getting back to smartwatches, many smartwatch manufacturers — especially the fashion brands — are much less concerned about what components are inside of the watch. Forbes
You have probably heard this word many times already, especially if you like fine watchmaking. Among the various kinds of ‘ Smart-watch companies, the factory is by far the most recognized, most envied, the rarest. Why that? This is what I am going to show you on this page, so let us go and discover the watch and clock factory …
A definition? no, several …
How to define a watch manufacturer? At first glance, the definition might seem easy, and yet this term is extremely vague, there is no real official definition. So how do you do it?
I will therefore give you the most accepted definition for this form of watchmaking firms.
A watch manufacturer is therefore a company in this sector which must master the manufacture of a watch (or a clock) from A to Z. This means that it must not call upon subcontracting or external suppliers for any part of the timepiece, for the movement and its parts (balance spring, escapement, etc.), the case, the bracelet, the dial, the hands, etc.
A watchmaking manufacturer is therefore supposed to be able to manufacture 100% of its watch, going from design, to the production of parts, to the assembly of the toquante to finish control.
However, this definition of manufacture poses a problem: few companies can then be qualified as manufacture. There may not even be any, because it is hard to know what is true and false in the information provided by companies in the industry.
The most common
100% of the components produced in-house, it is really complicated! The real manufacture hardly exists in real life, there is a distortion of this term.
This new definition would therefore be that a watch manufacturer is a firm which designs and manufactures its own in-house movements, but not necessarily all of them. In fact, the brand must make a large part of the watch (or the clock), the movement and the parts that constitute it. It must also ensure the complete assembly of the watch in the case and its operation.
The watchmaking factory does not necessarily need to be made by hand, because today most “factories” are industrialists. As we have seen, defining this term is not the simplest thing. Between the true definition and the most common form, the watch industry has chosen the second, quite simply because it is simpler for those involved in the sector. Yet almost all companies that claim to be manufactures are not, according to the true meaning of the term.
So why has this definition been changed to facilitate its use by many actors?
A term that sells…
A great reason has pushed smart-watchmaking manufacturers to move towards manufacturing, and it is simple: having a movement, a watch or simply a manufacture tends to give legitimacy to the brand and to make it increase sales …
A notion of prestige
Eh yes! The watchmaking manufacture has a real aura of prestige with customers and therefore with the marketing department. Indeed, what could be better than having a watch manufactured in-house, by its own watchmakers, to sell it.
This inevitably gives immense prestige to your brand and your watch, allowing it to be placed above non-manufactures and therefore to sell it at a higher price and better.
This marketing appeal for the manufacture largely participated in the race of the various houses to obtain this title and be able to affix it under their names. It is indeed common to see the mention watch manufacture or watch manufacture under the name of a brand.
A rare concept before the 20th century
Also, interesting thing about the appeal of this definition is that it is very recent. Indeed, naturally the Swiss watchmaking industry and most of the other countries that produce luxury watches (Germany and before France) were very scattered, with many subcontractors. There was therefore no manufacture in the noble sense of the term, but manufacturers who obtained their supplies from numerous companies to acquire movements (even if they were sometimes produced in-house), case, mechanical component of the movement, glass, etc.
The situation was different in the United States because they quickly industrialized watchmaking and certain brands like the renowned American Watch Company Waltham, Hamilton or others were going from the end of the 18th century to present a fully integrated model. These will undoubtedly be the first manufactures.
In Switzerland, the first brands which come closest to the definition are Vacheron Constantin from its creation in 1755, Longines in 1860 and Zenith when it was created in 1867. Another company which will quickly move towards a manufacture model is Seikosha in 1881.
As in the USA, the watchmaking environment is much weaker there than in Switzerland or France, hence the obligation for these brands to produce a large part of their watches in-house.
A rather modern race for manufacturing
In recent years, a high-end watchmaking and even high-end watchmaking brand has increasingly had to have manufacture production (at least for part of its range). This phenomenon undoubtedly stems from the fact that the manufacture is seen as a guarantee of quality and that it is easier for the consumer to determine the origin of his watch.
However, even today a manufacture movement or watch is not necessarily a sign of high quality, some prestigious brands such as Vacheron Constantin, for example, use movements machined by others. However, the quality and the luxury are present… Others, like Seiko, propose movements manufactures even for their models to 70 euros, in other words that even if the reliability is there, the finish is not at the level of some. subcontracted movements.
Become a manufacture at any cost! How?
Such prestige, in a simple name, could only attract the greed of many companies in the sector. This trend, which appeared especially during the 2000s, has therefore prompted many brands to transform themselves no longer into a simple caster or maker, but into a prestigious manufacture. For this, unfortunately, all means are good, even cheating …
In fact, most of the brands that are or want to become manufacturers will develop the design and manufacture of the movement in-house. Most of them will facilitate this research and development and production work by buying up old suppliers and subcontractors. This is for example the case of Breitling, Rolex, Breguet, Omega, etc. However, rare watchmakers start from zero, by setting up all the necessary infrastructure themselves and by recruiting the necessary human resources.
Other companies use almost spoofing techniques by calling on a subcontractor who will manufacture an in-house movement for a single brand, which will then say that it is a smart-watch manufacture movement.
Like what, many do anything to be able to bear this prestigious name.