- - if things are as cut and dried Jack! The BIGGEST factor in the demise of the Swiss industry was the extremely rapid development of an alternative and much cheaper method of timekeeping - viz - the quartz movement. Easily made and not requiring highly skilled heavily trained horological folks to put together, and readily adaptable to hi-volume production.
Add to that, remember the Swiss industry was virtually a cottage industry, many small companies and even individuals producing relatively small numbers of watches in one, two or three person workshops, using a myriad of names, making for "own-brands" in small quantities, and not a really large conglomerate body. Sure, the big boys were there, Rolex et al, but they were (as now) minnows compared with the Seiko/Citizen Japanese who were able to take on the electronics of the quartz movement and refine it to the point where it can be made for less than the cost of the cell you need to run it!
Apart from Switzerland, we in Britain had a large indigenous watchmaking industry - Smiths, Westclox, Timex, Newmark, Services, and other smaller companies. Smiths had 24 plants and over 40K employees at it's peak in Clocks, Watches and other timepieces -- and were the ONLY watchmakers worldwide who produced ALL the parts, cases, dials, movement parts and assembly "in-house" with the exception only of balance and hair spring assemblies. They even produced their own packaging, boxes and cases and printed their own paperwork. When the Q revolution came along - - whoosh! down the Swanee in a very short time, unable to keep up with the changes.
I reckon going for the perception of quality already owned by the Swiss was the only way for them to survive, and a smaller number of larger companies pushing this perception has now done this, although you and I know that many fine timepieces are produced outwith the Cantons of Switzerland, whether powered mechanically or electronically!
A big 2c worth
- - call it 6c worth!
Frae Edinburgh, Bonnie Scotland
Affordable and Everyday Watches
My other hobby - Sequence Dancing