Switzerland and fine watches have become synonymous, but why actually?
I originally used to presume that Switzerland was simply the place where watches got invented, or that the best watchmakers happened to live in Switzerland causing more and more people to move there. As it turns out though, neither are the case.
No, Switzerland becoming the world’s watch capital was a product of 16th-century church reform. It all started back in 1514 when Marthin Luther first published his Ninety-Five Theses. With it, he uttered groundbreaking thoughts on theology, which criticised practices of the Catholic church and was the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.
Marthin Luther, 1483-1546, posting his Ninety-Five Thesis
One of the most influential personalities within the protestant reformation was Jean Calvin. The French-born Calvin was forced to flee France for fear of his life as violence erupted surrounding the tensions among Christians.
While in exile he moved to Geneva where he became an influential figure and minister, eventually leading to him passing laws in 1541 which banned with under jewellery, a craftsmanship Geneva had until the been renown for in their expertise. Watches however luckily evaded the ban, as they were seen as having scientific value.
Jean Calvin, 1509-1564
Adaptable as the Swiss are, out of what usually would be a death sentence to a city’s economic health, they evolved to become the hub of the world for the best watchmakers in the world. By 1601 the most adept watchmakers formed the Watch Makers Guild of Geneva, and the rest is history.
So there you have it, it was the Protestants that we have to thank for our favourite watches!