1971 – 1980: A technological revolution
By spring 1971 Ronda could already look back on a quarter-century of eventful company history. The original operation had been substantially expanded with the addition of five further buildings. The site workforce had grown accordingly to 520 employees, with a further 375 personnel working from home. Despite the spacious premises, though, the company’s Swiss Made movement assembly activities (also known as “T1”) had to gradually be outsourced. In the same year, Ronda acquired a watch assembly business based in Canton Ticino in Southern Switzerland. The new operation was subsequently registered as a subsidiary company under the name “Farone”.
Quartz technology arrives
Time marches on in watch manufacturing as it does everywhere else. In the early 1970s, the industry was shaken to its foundations by the arrival of quartz technology. The new quartz movements were far more accurate than their traditional mechanical counterparts, and the innovative technology also offered promising prospects of tapping into new markets and customer segments.
With typical dynamism, Ronda developed its first quartz watch movement as early as 1974. Sales proved sluggish in the first few years, though: the recession which followed the oil crisis of 1973 put a particularly severe dampener on European watch manufacturers’ interest in trusting and investing in the innovative new technology.
As new sales markets opened up in Asia, Ronda established its first branch office outside Switzerland – in Hong Kong – in 1972. Two years later the new operation started assembling pallet and pin-pallet movements. For strategic reasons, it was decided to refrain from producing quartz movements at the new Far East location. Swiss Parts quartz movements were assembled in Hong Kong and China from 1982 to the end of the 1990s.