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Interesting. I had kind of assumed that the first quartz watch had been developed in Japan. The standard narrative is that the Swiss watch industry regarded quartz technology as a threat.

It's puzzling that the Swiss watch industry seems nowadays to have lost interest in advanced technology.
 

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Very interesting, especially the "Temperature Compensation" paragraph, it does sound like there is such a scheme in the Beta 21, which would explain why it's so accurate.

They don't say why it was a flop, I doubt the 1+ year battery life would have been the reason, wasn't it the asking price rather?

Too bad they don't list out all the Beta 21 models launched at Baselworld 1970 too, we were only able to come up with a few in the "Beta 21 list" topic here.
 

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Interesting, but fails to mention quartz clocks were invented and used in 1930, and that Seiko simultaneously introduced their quartz watch, the Astron, at the same time as the Beta 21. The quartz watch was indeed, a threat to traditional watchmaking, and the "Quartz Crisis" was born. The industry all but died, and would have gone the way of the Dodo, had not Nicolas Hayek and the Swatch Group rejuvenated the industry. Today, there are more high tech mechanical watches than ever before (utilizing space age materials) , but the price tags make them available only to the well-heeled.
 

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It is interesting but it's surprisingly badly written and it appears to be grinding some axes. As Outta Time mentions, and indeed, it's mentions in the article, the Seiko Astron emerged simultaneously with the Beta 21 and it obviously didn't do so spontaneously, so they must have been laboring away for quite some time.
Honestly, I don't see that it matters who actually assembled the first quartz watch.... Simultaneous, or almost simultaneous, versions of the same invention emerge all the time after two or more groups have undertaken research and development independently. It's clear that Seiko produced the first commercial model and I wonder what Citizen was doing though I don't think they started to produce any quartz for quite some time, did they?
 

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Since the Seikos were hand assembled engineering prototypes limited to 100 examples. and the Beta 21s were production movements sold in quantities of thousands... well, I've never considered Seiko's claims as more than PR bs.... but we've been down this road before.
 

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Very interesting. And all that from the horse's mouth!

All those new and untested / undiscovered technologies need to come together in a new product. That's just mind boggling. Would anyone be that brave nowadays?
And not that they took any shortcuts: I would think they were far too thorough with that temperature compensation thingy.
Its amazing that all that came together in the end.

Reminds me of the Xerox Parc effort: Put an amazing amount of effort and research into something only to have it decided upon by someone who wasn't interested in it in the first place.

On the other hand; giving such a decision to someone like that is simply reckless.
How do you keep the decision makers informed and interested?
 

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As you say, from the horse's mouth..... at least from a horse's mouth and it reads as if the horse might have been a bit biassed, too. Still, even if it's only one point of view, it is interesting.
 

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The post #15 by the user "Huertecilla" describes so well the phonomenon mechanical vs quartz in a way that is crystal clear.
 

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It's puzzling that the Swiss watch industry seems nowadays to have lost interest in advanced technology.
Two reasons.

Either they can't compete with the Japanese. Not much fun having a watch performiong at +/- 25 sec/year watch when the Japanese has +/- 5. Then Swiss watches will appear inferior and the "Swiss watch" brand will loose it's branding value.

Or they have much less control over the components going into the watch. Making a mechanical watch in-house does not require atomic age knowledge and technology. However making a quartz watch 100% in-house is very demanding. You have to grow your crystals (high pressure and temperature) and make your own chips. While the chips are not 20 nm or what ever Intels latest is but even making chips with the "large" mask size that was used in the 80s (and which is quite sufficient for even complicated digital watches, temperature compensation and so on) is very demanding in both equipment and knowledge. So if you're not satisfied with buying crystals and chips from the large components manufactures manufactures to your specifications - well then it's either extremely expensive to make a quartz watch or impossible.
So while still making ordinary quartz watches to full fill the demand for cheap watches they've mostly concentrated on the mechanical niche marked which has seen a great revival in the recent years. If not the marked has grown from niche to relatively common.

But my guess is it may only be a question of time - at least if the trend is people want a watch and not just look at their phone. I myself prefer a watch. Much quicker to look at than the phone let alone all the functions a modern multi function watch offer which are deeply buried in menus on the phone. But with that i mind I think the trend may turn at some time. People go back to quartz (or perhaps soon MEMS) when they're tired of their mechanics precision. While I do have mechanical watches and I love them I don't use them for daily use - too much hassle of setting them frequently, winding etc. so I only use them on special occasions. That's also a thing i miss on the mechanical ones. While a stopwatch is obtainable at reasonable price - a timer or alarm is not and while as said functions are on the phone they're often a hassle to use while on the watch the functions are at your wrist.
 

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Two reasons.

Either they can't compete with the Japanese. Not much fun having a watch performiong at +/- 25 sec/year watch when the Japanese has +/- 5. Then Swiss watches will appear inferior and the "Swiss watch" brand will loose it's branding value.

Or they have much less control over the components going into the watch. Making a mechanical watch in-house does not require atomic age knowledge and technology. However making a quartz watch 100% in-house is very demanding. You have to grow your crystals (high pressure and temperature) and make your own chips. While the chips are not 20 nm or what ever Intels latest is but even making chips with the "large" mask size that was used in the 80s (and which is quite sufficient for even complicated digital watches, temperature compensation and so on) is very demanding in both equipment and knowledge. So if you're not satisfied with buying crystals and chips from the large components manufactures manufactures to your specifications - well then it's either extremely expensive to make a quartz watch or impossible.
So while still making ordinary quartz watches to full fill the demand for cheap watches they've mostly concentrated on the mechanical niche marked which has seen a great revival in the recent years. If not the marked has grown from niche to relatively common.

But my guess is it may only be a question of time - at least if the trend is people want a watch and not just look at their phone. I myself prefer a watch. Much quicker to look at than the phone let alone all the functions a modern multi function watch offer which are deeply buried in menus on the phone. But with that i mind I think the trend may turn at some time. People go back to quartz (or perhaps soon MEMS) when they're tired of their mechanics precision. While I do have mechanical watches and I love them I don't use them for daily use - too much hassle of setting them frequently, winding etc. so I only use them on special occasions. That's also a thing i miss on the mechanical ones. While a stopwatch is obtainable at reasonable price - a timer or alarm is not and while as said functions are on the phone they're often a hassle to use while on the watch the functions are at your wrist.



I respectfully disagree that The Swiss are incapable of competing.
Even if your hypothesis was correct. If The Swiss lacked any capability that they deemed prudent to acquire, then i think they would certainly do so very quickly !

Imho, it all boils down to the $$$ !!!.....AND the way HAQ/Mech are marketed by mainstream Watch Cos. and in turn, perceived by buyers
in Western and Eastern influenced markets.


Throughout the past 20 years in many Western influenced markets Mechanical watches are where the big profits have been mushrooming more predictably and consistently, especially when marketed as higher-end luxury/lifestyle/halo items.
The Japanese perhaps generally consider HAQ more or less as "on par" in terms of status vis-
à-vis HE Mechanicals. I get the distinct impression that sales of HAQ in the East are greater, making it more of an attractive business opportunity compared to the West, where HAQ are perhaps regarded much more as a "niche" market these days.....Of course all just imho.


 
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