Swiss Army Watches: The Story Behind Their Quality

By Rob Dunwoody

The company now known as the original Swiss Army company, Victorinox, has actually been around for nearly 125 years. It is common knowledge that their Swiss Army knife is among the most recognized and respected tool of this past century. But the quality of their watches is less known. This report will explain why these affordable watches are one of the best bets in terms of quality.

Victorinox had been making Swiss Army knives for more than a hundred years when it felt the need to create other products to complement their original tool. After a study in the US, their largest market, showed them that people were looking for other products that matched their knives in quality, they started thinking of other options. Eventually, the company decided to create a line of Swiss Army watches because of the rich history of Swiss quality in that industry.

The only problem was that, in order to maintain the same level of quality consumers expected, they would have to control the assembly process and ensure they were of highest quality. To do this, Victorinox built a new factory in 2002 Switzerland that allowed them to oversee the creation process directly. This gave them total ability to examine every little detail about their watches before they hit the market.

Even with all the advances in modern technology and with new industrial practices, every watch high-quality Swiss Army watch has to be examined and tested by an army of technicians. This is no small task when you realize that Victorinox manufactures a little less than a million watches per year. Really, when you stop to think about it, it's truly amazing that the company has continued to make such a complex creation with the same level of quality as their knives.

Only the best materials go into each Swiss Army watch; they purchase their movements-the part of the watch that makes the hands rotate-from a Swiss company called ETA. ETA also supplies movements to Omega and Tag Heuer, two of the most respected luxury brands in Swiss watches.

The carefully cultivated reputation of Swiss-made watches is experiencing a new threat these days. Swiss-made watch companies have seen competition increase from unscrupulous foreign companies. That's because of the rule that the movement of each watch only has to be made with at least 50% Swiss-made parts.

Many Asian companies, in particular, have done their best to take advantage of this rule. They can make watches that they claim are Swiss made, charge a high-end price for them, and not make them to the same quality standards as genuine Swiss-made watches. Newer companies with no track record are benefitting from the reputation that Swiss watchmaking companies have created over centuries because they call themselves "Swiss-made" and consumers automatically assume that they are high quality as well.

Even with this controversy, both the present and the future is bright for Swiss watch companies. Swiss watches attract almost half of all the global money spent on watches, and they only account for 3% of the number of watches sold. Right on the middle of that vast market are the Swiss Army watches-a brand that is purchased both for their overall affordability and because they share the same quality standards as their other Swiss timepieces.

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