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The Watch Files

The Watch Files

By The Watch Files
These are The Watch Files, where we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. Featuring Serge Maillard of Europa Star and Stephen Foskett of Grail Watch.
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i1 Innovations in Watch Component Colors with Positive Coating
As we discussed last time, Porsche Design's innovative use of materials and coatings set their watches apart in a crowded industry. In this special episode, Serge Maillard and Stephen Foskett discuss the future of watch movement and case materials with Lucien Steinmann of Positive Coating, the company driving an explosion of colorful PVD and ALD coatings. Watches like the rainbow-coated Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone Edition leverage these techniques to startling effect, and this materials science will enable a world of color, from heritage to modern models. The Watch Files turns from history to the future in this special series, focused on the innovators who are driving the horology industry to the future.  Reference Materials: Positive Coating  IWC, Porsche Design, and Titanium Watches  Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone Edition 
44:05
October 11, 2021
08 Porsche Design and the Titanium Watch
On April 25, 1981, attendees at the European Watch, Clock, and Jewellery Fair in Basel got their hands on something completely new. IWC introduced the Porsche Design Titan chronograph, the first titanium watch available for sale. The revolutionary material caught the watchmaking world off guard, and the Titan helped IWC and their partner Jaeger-LeCoultre survive the quartz crisis. This is the story of the watches created by legendary designer Ferdinand Alexander Porsche and the radical utilitarian watch designs he created with IWC. It's also a story of how materials and design can spark customer enthusiasm and sales. This episode is divided into three 15 minute segments:  Ferdinand Alexander Porsche and Porsche Design  IWC, Porsche Design, and Titanium  Materials as a Watch Design Element
45:37
October 04, 2021
07 Eugène Meylan Should Be Remembered For Glycine's Automatic Watch
On June 9, 1931, watchmaker Eugène Meylan registered a new company, Automatic EMSA, to exploit his latest innovation, a central-rotor automatic winding mechanism that could be paired with nearly any small round movement. This would catapult Glycine, the company Meylan founded as a young man, to prominence with the first mass-market automatic watch. But the story of Meylan's life is much more compelling and tragic, and reveals a great deal about the history of watchmaking in the first half of the 20th century. Today we are celebrating the accomplishments of Eugène Meylan and considering his life, which was tragically cut short in 1955. This episode is divided into three 15 minute segments: Promising young watchmaker Eugène Meylan founds La Glycine but is soon forced out Meylan's self-winding mechanism makes Glycine's Automatic the envy of the industry The tragic story of Meylan's life and untimely death More Information: Glycintennial.com Eugène Meylan, Glycine, and the Fight Over the First Automatic Watch Ranfft Pink Pages: Glycine Eugene Meylan
44:52
September 20, 2021
x1 Breitling's Montbrillant Watch Manufactory
In this special "extra" episode of The Watch Files, Stephen Foskett tells the story of the Breitling Montbrillant Watch Manufactory in La Chaux-de-Fonds. If you're a Breitling fan, you're probably aware of the name, Montbrillant, which has been used on historic models and featured in advertising for a century. But you might be surprised to learn what the name really refers to, and the complicated history of the Montbrillant Watch Manufactory Breitling operated in La Chaux-de-Fonds for 85 years. This is the audio of a special Watch Files video, which can be seen on YouTube: "What Does “Montbrillant” Mean to Breitling?" Join Serge Maillard, Publisher & CEO of Europa Star, and Stephen Foskett, Publisher of Grail Watch, as we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. More Information: What Does “Montbrillant” Mean to Breitling?, Grail Watch YouTube What Does “Montbrillant” Mean to Breitling?, Grail Watch Blog
10:17
June 04, 2021
06 The Forgotten History of Jaquet-Droz, An Experiment in Cooperation
On April 4, 1960, 70 independent Swiss watchmakers joined forces to form a remarkable new cooperative. Intent on standing their ground against the consolidation of watchmakers into corporations, the Coopérative de Fabricants Suisses d'Horlogerie would launch a shared watch brand three years later, using the name of famous watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz. The Coopérative grew rapidly, accounting for over 15% of Swiss watchmaking exports in 1968 and boasting a catalog of over 2,000 different models. Yet this unique experiment, and the famous brand they used, is entirely forgotten. Join Serge Maillard, Publisher & CEO of Europa Star, and Stephen Foskett, Publisher of Grail Watch, as we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. More Information: The Forgotten History of Jaquet-Droz, Switzerland’s Shared Watch Brand, Grail Watch, 2021 La Concentration Dans le Secteur Horloger, Europa Star 4, 1960 Interview with Dr. Charles-Edouard Virchaux, President of the Cooperative of Swiss Watch Manufacturers, Europa Star Eastern Jeweler 85, 1964 Scope of the Technical Control Center of the Swiss Manufacturers' Cooperative at Bienne, Europa Star Eastern Jeweler 89, 1965 Jaquet-Droz Sales Centre Opens at Bienne, Europa Star Eastern Jeweler 91, 1965 The Cooperative of Swiss Manufacturers Publishes Report for 1965, Europa Star Eastern Jeweler 94, 1966 1966 a Prosperous Year for Jaquet-Droz, Europa Star Eastern Jeweler 100, 1967 Jaquet-Droz Strike their Balance, Europa Star Eastern Jeweler 111, 1969 Jaquet-Droz Six Years' Presence on Watch Markets, Europa Star Eastern Jeweler 133, 1973 Jaquet-Droz: A Great Name Becomes a Great Brand, Europa Star 199, 1993
45:31
May 03, 2021
05 How the Bulova Accutron Disrupted the Swiss Watch Industry
On October 25, 1960, American company Bulova introduced the most advanced watch ever made. The Accutron used a tuning fork oscillating 60 times faster than a normal watch thanks to electronic components and a battery. This space-age watch shifted the balance of watchmaking power to America, but it was the brainchild of a Swiss engineer who soon returned home. Max Hetzel's work disrupted the entire industry and kicked off the race to build a quartz watch. Join Serge Maillard, Publisher & CEO of Europa Star, and Stephen Foskett, Publisher of Grail Watch, as we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. More Information: Bulova Accutron at Grail Watch Reference The Accutron Watch Page Engineering Time: Inventing the Electronic Wristwatch, Carlene Stephens and Maggie Dennis, British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 33
55:48
April 08, 2021
04 Blancpain, Biver, Piguet, and the Path Forward
On July 8, 1992, it was announced that watchmaking giant SMH (today known as the Swatch Group) was purchasing upstart watch brand Blancpain and their movement producer, Frédéric Piguet. This was a recognition of the contrarian company's decade-long effort to re-establish mechanical watchmaking in the face of the quartz crisis. Declaring that Blancpain would never produce a quartz watch despite the fact that this was all consumers seemed to buy at the time, Biver directed his company to produce six masterpieces of mechanical watchmaking as a "living museum of the past." This was the template for the entire industry, which returned to prominence thanks to craftsmanship, storytelling, and luxury, all of which Biver understood more than anyone else. Join Serge Maillard, Publisher & CEO of Europa Star, and Stephen Foskett, Publisher of Grail Watch, as we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. More Information: Blancpain, F. Piguet, Biver, and the Path Forward, Grail Watch Jean-Claude Biver: Past, Present, Future, Europa Star Lettres du Brassus, Issue 05
53:40
March 20, 2021
03 El Primero and the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Zenith
On January 10, 1969, Zenith and Movado announced the world's most advanced watch movement. Called El Primero, it was the world's first automatic chronograph and represented the best in mechanical watchmaking. But Zenith was sold to an unrelated American company of the same name just two years later, and was forced to cease production of mechanical watches and focus on quartz. This is the story of the watchmaker who saved the El Primero movement, the Swiss industrialist who saved Zenith, and the rising star that re-ignited watchmaking in Le Locle and beyond. Join Serge Maillard, Publisher & CEO of Europa Star, and Stephen Foskett, Publisher of Grail Watch, as we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. More Information: The Fall and Rise of Zenith: 1969-1988, Grail Watch The Watchmaker Who Saved Zenith From Oblivion, Europa Star Le Retour du Tic-Tac, RTS
51:25
March 05, 2021
02 The Thin Watch War: Delirium and the Swatch
On January 12, 1979, the Swiss watch industry announced the thinnest watch ever made: The Delirium, developed and produced by Ebauches SA for Concord, Eterna, and Longines. It was just 1.98 mm thick and wasn’t a big seller, but it accomplished something more important: The Delirium proved that the Swiss were innovating like the Japanese and would stand their ground in the quartz market. And the novel design of the Delirium, which embedded the movement into the case back, laid the foundation for another critical announcement four years later, the Swatch. Join Serge Maillard, Publisher & CEO of Europa Star, and Stephen Foskett, Publisher of Grail Watch, as we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. More Information: The Thin Watch War | The Watch Files: January 12, 1979, Grail Watch The Battle to Build the Thinnest Watch, New York Times, February 22, 1979 A New World Record Set by ETA S.A. of Granges, Europa Star 119, 1980
42:10
February 26, 2021
01 The Day Gérald Genta Challenged the Watch Industry
On November 7, 1984, the watch industry was stunned as famed jewellery designer Gerald Genta unveiled a line of fine watches styled with Mickey Mouse, the Pink Panther, and Popeye. The industry had never before mixed pop culture with haute horology, and the outcry forced Genta to abandon Montres et Bijoux. Was it really so bad? Shouldn't they have known this would happen? Join Serge Maillard, Publisher & CEO of Europa Star, and Stephen Foskett, Publisher of Grail Watch, as we tell the stories of the events that changed the horology industry. More Information: The Watch Show That Should Inspire the Future Geneva Show, Europa Star, April 2020 1984: When Gérald Genta Challenged the Watchmaking Establishment, Europa Star, April 2020 The Day Gérald Genta Challenged the Watch Industry | The Watch Files: November 7, 1984, Grail Watch, February 2021
33:25
February 16, 2021