It was 47 years ago in 1969 that Seiko launched the Seiko Astron quartz watch.
Most of you know the story … the start of a revolution that swept through the watch industry and sent many companies to the wall…. that period in time is now referred to as the Quartz crisis.
However, a new crisis may be emerging and … this time it’s for quartz!
Here a sales report from Cnet.
Thanks to Apple Watch, smartwatch sales could hit $11.5 billion this year - CNET!
In the last quarter of 2015 Smart watch shipments totalled a whopping 8.1 million units shipped compared with 7.9 Swiss watch shipments according to watch-next.
I don’t have the figures for Japanese watch shipments for the same period but don’t think the Japanese haven’t noticed. Seiko in particular have their boffins working on a Smartwatch. Make no mistake when Seiko enter the arena it won’t be a token effort.
Here Seiko chief Hirohiko Umemoto talks to watch-next about their plans.
Exclusive: Seiko studying a smart watch as global sales eclipse Swiss watches - Watch Next
Apple have established a market that is growing beyond early adopters, tech geeks and the army of Apple fans. Young watch buyers entering the market today when faced with a choice of choosing a quartz watch or a smartwatch are increasingly looking to take the smartwatch option.
Jean-Claude Biver the Tag Heuer boss recently told T&T that their biggest selling sku last year was their smart watch. He too confirms the cooling of quartz.
VIDEO: The Long View with TAG Heuer's CEO, Jean-Claude Biver - Time and Tide Watches
A temperature test would show the smartwatch as hot and quartz as tepid. I’m reminded of the old joke “That the difference between an oral thermometer and a rectal thermometer is taste “and for many a watch lover the smartwatch leaves a bad taste.
So where then will it leave watch lovers? Is it folly to mourn quartz? Watches have always developed and ‘improved’ along the timeline from the English fusee to Swiss lever, tuning fork to electric. All have had their time in the sun and contributed to the story of the watch. The big difference this time is the smartwatch hasn’t grown out of the watch industry. Finally as the watch buying public begin to turn the page on quartz will collectors look to the early period of quartz with new eyes?
With smartwatches getting their time from the cellular network there may well arise a nostalgia for (ye oldie world of) quartz mechanisms. A quartz crystal finely shaped into a fork then electrified to resonate and vibrate. Those vibrations are counted and translated to a 1 second step in time that motivates a drive train to turn the hands of a watch.