The Bright Future of Mechanical Watches in a Digital Age

Peter Wadbro & Francis Jacquerye

Mechanical watches, despite featuring an older technology, are seen by enthusiast as “having a soul”, being repairable and holding their resale value.

Peter Wadbro and Francis Jacquerye were respectively born in 1972 and 1974, and in the interval between their birth dates more than 100,000 units of the Valjoux 7750™ went into production. It was the first automatic chronograph ever designed on a computer, and besides a 10 year pause after 1975, production resumed from 1985 until this day, with the calibre having been tweaked to create dozens of variations.The miniaturization and commoditization that helped to build the computer on which Edmond Capt designed the Valjoux 7750™ ushered in the Digital Era.

ETA 7750

At that time, Scandinavia was going through the last years of its watchmaking golden age, with the Swedish national Air Force taking delivery of a few hundred hand-wound chronographs from Switzerland, and a small Copenhagen brand called Siduna selling its last collections around the Baltic Sea.

In the following forty-five years, watchmakers managed to pivot their narrative and sell mechanical watches as an experience, instead of simply selling them as timekeepers and leaving them vulnerable to comparison with more modern technology.

«If you want to check the time, buy a quartz, but if you want to look at your wrist and smile, buy a mechanical.» ― Franz Rivoira

Peter and Francis have since grown into married men and fathers, but they both stumbled upon mechanical watches in their youth and have made a profession out of their passion: Peter trained at the Urmakarskolan i Bordensber (Swedish watchmaking school) before passing the prestigious WOSTEP certification, and Francis studied industrial design and goldsmithing before making it to chief designer of Longines, one of the oldest watchmakers in the world.
Mechanical watches, despite featuring an older technology, are seen by enthusiast as “having a soul”, being repairable and holding their resale value.

«...it can be fixed, modified and restored, but it cannot be rendered obsolete. When disruption is the norm, the real disruption may just be permanence.» ― David Sax

This phenomenon within the Digital Age is also observed in other fields,where analogue devices are back in demand because of the physical experience that they provide.

«The digital world just leaves you boxes full of cables and chargers and outdated, obsolete versions of things.You want something to hold onto. The attraction to analog is that it does remain.» ― David Sax

Amidst a global recession, the success of micro brands, lifestyle brands and crowd funded brands proves that rather than a drop in demand for watches, there is a shift in demand. So in Summer of 2017, Peter and Francis decided to use an iconic pilot chronograph from 1973 and adapt it to a custom version of the movement designed by Edmond Capt in 1971. In order to bridge the past and the present and make a nod to the Scandinavian golden age of watchmaking, they sought rights to the Siduna brand, which had been created in Switzerland during the 19th century and relocated in Copenhagen in 1929.

Having previously worked with the production, servicing and repair of prestigious Swiss watches, they wanted to keep control of the design, assembly, quality assurance and distribution; and their experience as collectors with hundreds of vintage watches had taught them that anything below Middle Range quality has less chance of surviving more than a decade.

Francis used his experience from Longines experiments at reproducing historic watches with modern materials to design the components and personally cherry-pick suppliers, with up to 75% from continental Europe. Peter is supervising the quality control and customer service; and in April 2018 the team assembled the pre-series of 21st century Siduna watches.

The first 100 Siduna chronographs will only be available through direct sales. The official website has been opened to pre-orders. Watches are scheduled to be assembled, tested and individually delivered in November 2018.