Like it or not, the fact of the matter is this: 99% of the world’s watches are made in China. Sure, many brands hide this fact by labeling their watches “Made in Germany” or “Swiss Made,” but the truth is that these labels have very little meaning today.
Back in 2017, we attended an intimate seminar hosted by the Swiss Watch Federation in Hong Kong. The name of the seminar? “A Guide to the ‘Swiss-Made’ Label.” What we learned at this seminar was astonishing to say the least.
Consumers had begun to lose trust in the vaunted Swiss Made label. Concerned, the Swiss Watch Federation aimed to put a stop to this by implementing “stricter” criteria for what could now be considered a Swiss Made watch.
And, with the new regulations to uphold the integrity of the “Swiss Made” label introduced, the Swiss Watch Federation was hosting the Hong Kong seminar to help the titans of the industry make sense of it all.
See this HODINKEE article for reference.
At the seminar, veterans of the European industry met with Chinese factory owners; it was all handshakes and smiles.
“How are the wife and kids?” one of the veterans seemingly inquired as he shook the hand of an elderly Chinese magnate.
“What if sapphire crystal production is moved to Switzerland?” one factory owner piped up during the Q&A portion of the seminar.
He was told that probably wouldn’t be necessary.
Probably? Weren’t these the guys making the rules? How could they not answer such a question with certainty?
The truth was that nobody wanted anything to actually change…
Both the Chinese and Europeans were quite happy with the current arrangement for manufacturing and labeling watches. Changing the status quo would be both costly and irritating.
The cost of labor in China is significantly cheaper than Switzerland. On top of this, the Chinese quickly learned that in order to do business with the Europeans, the cheap quality they were once known for needed to be a thing of the past. So a thing of the past it became. High quality crystals, hands, dials, and finely finished cases can all be effectively produced in China.
So what did all this mean for Traska?
It meant that if we did our due diligence, we could utilize the same suppliers that the big European brands used. And, it meant that we could provide the same high quality components to our customers.
Our vision was this: High quality watches shouldn’t have to be limited to the luxury segment of the market.
If we used robust Japanese movements rather than the costly (and often temperamental) Swiss ones, we could offer luxury quality watches for fashion watch prices.
So we did just that.
Making use of the same suppliers as the big brands was a step in the right direction—but that wouldn’t be enough.
We spent the next five months working alongside our manufacturing partners to ensure the highest quality components were manufactured to our exact standards and specifications.
And with that—our first model, The Freediver, was born.