Love ‘em or leave ‘em, ETA is a force to be reckoned with in the watch industry. While most of the shine these days is on the in-house movements that are coming out, there’s something to be said for the standards and precision we enjoy today courtesy of all that ETA produces. Ever wonder how they got to the point they are today?
For that, you can wind the pages of history back to about 1856, when a movement factory was started up that ultimately became Eterna twenty years later. Sure, that may not sound all that interesting, but it’s the start of something quite interesting.
In the intervening years, quite a few other movement (or ébauche) manufacturers started up. Why are we left with the ETA behemoth today? Well, that’s actually a story of crises and perseverance, in which the Swiss watch industry stuck to the same gameplan time after time – when the going gets tough, consolidate.
That, for me, is really what the story of ETA (and now Swatch Group) really is. It’s a story of perseverance in the face of adversity, and a story that brought us to the Swiss watch industry as we see it today. What I’ve painted here is the mega-Cliff Notes version of the story. If this is of interest to you, you really have to go read David Bredan’s article over at aBlogtoWatch. It’s a long read, but it’s the most comprehensive history I’ve seen put together, and it’s worth your time to go through it if you’d like to understand how we got to the point we are today.