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1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine

EDITORIAL

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January 2020


1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine

As wishes are in order for 2020, I succumbed to the temptation to look at what my predecessors had written as Europa Star entered each new decade since 1950. What messages did they want to send? Their writings remain remarkably relevant, even though hindsight is always 20/20.

1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine
1950 The immediate post-war period. Published primarily “to spread information on the Horological, Jewellery and kindred Trades and Industries”, our editions also embrace a broader and more ambitious objective. In his text entitled “To our readers and future friends”, the editorialist expresses the conviction that “by the exchange of goods and services across the seas and across the frontiers, men and women may help each other and the Nations live together in peace and growing prosperity.” With the return of calm, trade could resume its course.
1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine
1960 In the post-war reconstruction effort, the creation of a European Common Market resonates as an attractive prospect for the watch industry. “A new approach is needed, both in respect of production and of distribution methods, if full benefit is to be derived from the openings offered by this greater-European market of some 300 million consumers (…) Europe — as has been stated recently — is on the verge of the greatest economic expansion in its history.” Hence the name of our publication, Europa Star!
1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine
1970 The electronic watch arrives. And with this technological revolution comes one of the industry’s greatest transformative crises. “Those who only a few years ago did not believe in the future of the electronic watch had to come round and admit that in the watch industry as in every other field, the wheel of progress cannot be halted.”
1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine
1980 A visual shock at first, with colour becoming more and more prominent in publications. There is clearly a firm belief that despite the “difficult situation on the world markets for precious metals”, Swiss watchmaking too can regain some colour. A significant increase in the number of visitors was thus observed at the 1980 edition of the Basel fair. “The latest news speaks of a complete internationalization of the fair. Will we be seeing Japanese exhibitors as early as 1981?” Switzerland is no longer the sole beating heart of the world’s watchmaking.
1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine
1990 In his editorial, Valentin Philibert takes an interest in a product that has somewhat fallen off the radar: the good old clock. He underlines the growing difference “between run-of-the-mill, downmarket clocks produced by most foreign competitors, with a few exceptions, and thoroughbred Swiss creations.” With the “rise in the standard of living of most importing countries, these products, so long as they remain real objects of art,” can justify “their relatively high price”. Fewer and fewer volumes, more and more value: the future of Swiss watchmaking is taking shape. This trend continues today.
1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine
2000 A special millennium edition with a retrospective of the most important watches of the 20th century. An editorial by Pierre Maillard looks into the mysteries of the very notion of Time, at the heart of the industry responsible for measuring it: “As we enter the new millennium, we must understand that the year 2000 is only an illusion, an invention of a human calendar, an arbitrary line of demarcation.”
1950-2020: The voices of my ancestors... and mine
2010 “Watchmakers: haven’t they learned anything?” wondered Pierre Maillard in his editorial opening the decade just ended. At that time, the watchmaking world was still bearing the brunt of the financial crisis. Are watchmakers any more virtuous than the financiers? The risk is indeed to pay “no regard to what is happening on the ground in the real world.” The average price of the watches presented at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix that year provides scant grounds for optimism about a return to reality: CHF 236,800. It was a prescient take on the reality check that the industry has gradually been coming to terms with over the past five years.
2020

And now, as we enter this new decade, our message is simple: let’s build a global watch community based on quality, authentic passion and shared values. The industry is fragmenting. Visionaries are vanishing. The compass seems to have been lost. As the voices of my predecessors showed, short-term individualistic strategies cannot form a solid foundation for the future of a “common good” for so many people in Switzerland and around the world.

To gain instant access to 100,000 pages of Europa Star archives dating back to 1950, go to www.europastar.com/club.