The watch industry has seen a tumultuous give and take between several nations and manufacturers over the years. Modern watch designs never truly emerged until the early 1980s, when watches became as much of a fashion statement as they were a necessity.
New styles in analog watches soon crossed over to digital LCD watches, which were generally better suited for active lifestyles. Now, watch lovers can enjoy the latest fashions without having to buy several time pieces, thanks to interchangeable but durable parts.
What the Swiss Missed
For hundreds of years, Swiss watch manufacturers were credited as the best in the world. The mechanisms that made the watches run were incredibly complex and precise, using hundreds of tiny moving parts to keep accurate time.
These Swiss watches were expensive, often making them heirlooms to be passed down from one generation to the next. The rising entrepreneurial middle class found these watches particularly useful for following along with train schedules or other such commutes.
Early in the 20th century, complex mechanical watches gave way to quartz time pieces. These new watch designs used electronic signals combined with the vibrating effect that crystals have to accurately keep time. By the late ‘60s, companies like Seiko in Japan and Timex in America overtook Swiss watches thanks to cheaper, lightweight alternatives.
Digital Watches and the Birth of a Fashion Statement
Texas Instruments helped develop watches in the 1970s that had entirely digital displays. These watches used LED lights to show the time. Because LEDs were distractingly bright and drained battery life, most watch wearers had to check the time with the press of a button.
In the meantime, a Swiss company called Swatch figured out how to recapture the market from competitors. They began to create lightweight, stylish watches with thin plastic housings that could be purchased in a bold range of styles and colors. These watches took the market by storm, doubling the amount of sales in the industry by 1985.
Digital watches lagged behind this popularity, offering cheap and durable watches that nevertheless could still not compete with the likes of Swatch and Seiko. However, manufacturers like Timex, Casio and Texas Instruments figured out that the rugged rubber housings and tough nature of digital watches made them great for more active lifestyles.
Those who were worried about messing up their Rolex could wear a durable digital watch for workouts and travel. These watches started up a new trend where sport features like water resistance and rubberized protective faces were married with fashionable trends.
Advances in manufacturing mean that people can own watches that are less expensive and more reliable than ever before. The tendency to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a watch has given way to more practical solutions.
Since cell phones have provided people with a reliable way to check the time, watches now are more of a statement of fashion sensibilities. Wearers who are extremely active can also manage their time without worrying about carrying a delicate cell phone around.
Manufacturers are accommodating demands for more style and variety in watches, as well. Products such as Joy Joy’s interchangeable watch system allow wearers to swap out bands from a single watch head to suit their mood or current outfit. These innovative ideas keep pushing watch fashion forward in an era where personal philosophies value holding on to practical ideas from the past.
Take a look at our watch head styles to get started wearing a time piece that can be as flexible with trends and changing daily routines as you are.