The best watchmakers in the world have always prided on doing it by hand. Aside from tradition, its intricacy and handmade quality help make timepieces exclusive and expensive. Buyers like that, but very few watchmakers—fewer than most people expect — can do it genuinely. Rolex and Rado are both prestigious brands, yet in comparison to Patek Philippe, they matter little.
Speaking of Swiss companies, Omega’s factory is probably the most advanced of its kind. Its telling quality is the amount of robotics and automation in the floor area. President Stephen Urquhart, however, was quick to squash doubts about the quality of their watches. People are still responsible for assembling the watch, but repetitive tasks are for the machines.
Technology: The Present
The watchmaking sector isn’t immune to the developing world, and much like most industries, technology is their present. Some would even say that this is the best time to make watches, because in the end, it’s still up to humans to build timepieces.
It’s not about riding the wave, either. Precise watches are precise for a reason, and they rely on precisely made parts. If any component is off by millimeters, it will affect the watch’s quality. Renowned Swiss masters didn’t attain fame by devoting to regularity.
Everything else, from Swiss turning to oiling, those are something for their steel assistants. Though some watchmakers object to contraptions in their work, they’re there to help, not take over.
Contrary to public knowledge, not every watch company makes their own parts. Like in F1, where race teams import engines and other parts, watchmakers also do the same thing. And thanks to CNC machines, more companies are becoming more independent. That promotes individuality and, in the near future, better quality.
Leading heads in the industry are already saying that this is good for the future. Any budding watchmakers and machinists would be wise to listen. If there’s anything to take away from them, it’s their insight.