Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Invicta Watches


Some products are instantly associated with a certain nation. France is famous for its wine, Columbia for its coffee, and the United States for its movies and music. Then there is Switzerland. The Swiss are known for their chocolate, cheese and army knives. 

The clock and watch industry was a relatively minor one in Switzerland in the middle of the 16th century. Both were considered luxury products and were produced by a small group of artisans, most of them located in the Swiss city of Geneva. Then a series of sweeping reforms implemented by the pastor Jean Calvin banned most kinds of jewelry, which put hundreds of jewelers and goldsmiths out of work.

A half a century later, Geneva was the unofficial world capital of watch-making. The Swiss were the first country to focus on horology as an independent craft or trade. They were also the first to create a watchmaker's guild in 1601.

By the start of the 18th century, Geneva was known as a "city of watchmakers." In fact, it was so crowded with watch shops and experienced watchmakers that many ambitious young horologists decided to relocate to less crowded and competitive towns. 

One of these watchmakers was a young man by the name of Raphael Picard. He moved to a small town in the mountains called La Chaux-de-Fonds and founded the Invicta Watch Company in 1837. 

Though the company never made much money, Invicta (Latin for "invincible") was in business for over 140 years. Their timepieces gained a loyal following in most of Europe and in parts of Asia. But like most watch companies that produced mechanical watches, they were impacted by the Quartz Revolution.

This new electronic technology was introduced in the early 1970s. Ironically, it helped many new companies achieve Raphael Piccard's long-held dream, i.e., it made timepieces affordable for everyone. Of course, these were not the timepieces he had worked with. 

Invicta continued making timepieces for about a decade after the Quartz Revolution before they threw in the proverbial towel. Mechanical watchmakers simply could not compete with the new technology with their higher labor and material costs. Thankfully, that is not the end of our story.

A few years after Invicta folded, the company and its name was sold to an investment firm from Florida. Now, you might wonder, what exactly is in a name, especially a relatively unknown one. After all, we're not talking about C.-C. or McDonald's here. But the investment firm bought much more than a name when they purchased Invicta.

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