With its new nice fake Patek Philippe Ref. 5524 Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, Patek Philippe …
Now chances are if you have even more than a passing interest in Patek Philippe Calatrava Quartz replica watches, mechanical or otherwise, you’ll be familiar with the well-documented and oft-referred to ‘crisis’.
It’s hard for us to imagine now but back then the Swiss companies dominated watchmaking worldwide. Nearly every watch sold was powered by a mechanical movement of some description and the modern-day Japanese juggernauts like Seiko and Citizen were barely known outside their own country, despite both companies having produced timepieces for almost half-a-century before Seiko unveiled world’s first quartz watch – the Astron – in 1969. According to Seiko, the Astron was the result of 10 years of research and development and despite its high retail cost (which at the time was equivalent to the price of a medium-sized car according to Wikipedia) 100 gold watches were sold following its first week of commercial release.
For those who aren’t however the term is used predominately in the watchmaking industry to refer to the tremendous economic impact caused by the advent of quartz watches in the 1970s and early 1980s, which all but obliterated the companies that continued to only make mechanical Patek Philippe copy watches.
A large focus of luxury watchmaking has been – and probably always will be – the centuries-old craft of designing and constructing mechanical movements. Sure there are other elements that are important; the use of precious metals, the types of finishing, the brand name, but by and large it’s the movement inside – and particularly its level of complexity – that determines the perceived value of a timepiece. That’s why the catastrophic events of the 1970’s, collectively referred to as the ‘Quartz Crisis’ are considered the most disruptive thing to happen to the Swiss watch industry as a whole since the invention of the wristwatch itself.
The Swiss watch industry didn’t just lie down and die at this point however, although they did field some pretty serious casualties. Instead they slowly but surely began to fight back, with many brands beginning to offer quartz powered models alongside their mechanical ones. The difference was these watches weren’t always markedly cheaper than their counterparts.Although it didn’t happen overnight, once Quartz watches hit the mainstream market in the 1970’s they gained in popularity at a fairly rapid pace, eventually surpassing the popularity of mechanical watches. Not only were they inexpensive compared to their mechanical counterparts, they were also a lot more accurate.
Perhaps more significant though was a joint venture in the early 1950s between the Elgin Watch Company and Lip of France that also produced an electromechanical watch. This watch was powered by a small battery instead of an unwinding spring, and provided the best preview yet of what was to come. Despite the apparent advancements in the technology however many of the well-established Swiss brands were quick to dismiss the idea of a watch powered by a battery, let alone one that was not Swiss made (keep in mind that at this time the Swiss-made fake Patek Philippe watch industry controlled 80% – 90% of the global watch market.) As history has shown us though, this assumption proved to be wildly incorrect.