In the strange, small world of watchmaking, there’s lots of money to be made on items that we would call, at best, totemic. To make those items, you still need small mechanical parts. That’s where Nivarox comes in.
UPDATE – Just realized Patrick already wrote his, but I’ll leave this up for Twitter folks. Also, Patrick: Double-post! JINX!
Nivarox makes balance springs. The name stands for “ni variable, ni oxydable,” which translates to “neither variable nor oxidable.” These tiny springs swing the balance wheel in almost every mechanical watch and the goal of invariability coupled quality metals made Nivarox one of the most important companies in the world during the 20th century. Now they’re owned by the Swatch Group, a company that has a virtual monopoly on the high-end watch market. And, interestingly, most competitors are just fine with that.
Ariel Adams at ABlogToRead went to visit the factory where he saw how the smallest widget can make or break a mechanical watch.
It wasn’t always thus. In the 1980s, Nivarox almost dissappeared. Ariel writes:
Read the full article if you want to learn about one of the most important mechanical manufacturers in the world and how so much of the watch industry depends on one invariable hairspring.
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