THE CONCORD WATCH COMPANY~A BRIEF HISTORY

Another in a series of very casual historical watchmaker reviews.

Concord has had a winding path which is not that unusual for many Swiss survivors of the quartz crisis. Watchmakers scrambled for survival taking unfamiliar paths in a rapidly changing landscape. What is a little different sbout Concord is the fact that perhaps no other Swiss watchmaker embraced the quartz revolution so completely or rode the wave higher. Let's get into it!

Founded in 1908 in the famous watchmaking region of Biel, Switzerland, by 1915 Concord was supplying watches to companies like Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany and Cartier.

As a private label watchmaker producing watches for others the Concord name was better known for much of its existence amongst those who sold premium watches rather than the buying public.

Concord's early ability to incorporate jewels and precious metals into their watches made them an important "private label" resource for other providers of luxury goods. Companies seeking to offer high end watches to the public worthy of representing their luxury brand increasingly turned to Concord and were not disappointed.

In a much later chapter Concord would use their behind the scenes prowess in an ad campaign with the tag line "The World's Most Famous Unknown Watch".

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Much of their production history though would be focused on being a provider of high end watches for other makers of luxury goods.

In 1942 even President Truman gifted Concord watches to Stalin and Churchill during WWII peace talks, signaling Concord's position as a luxury watch maker.

The design influence on this Concord Bennington is blatantly Cartier but I do recall believing that Concord was mostly a premium watch company in its own right. Even as a little kid in a Timex level family, unable to name many makers, I associated Concord with wealthy people.

Concord would eventually be purchased in 1970 by the North American Watch Company (later rebranded as Movado) at a time when NAWC also distributed Piaget and Corum watches which speaks plainly to Concord's targeted market segment.

Unlike many competitors that would quickly meet their demise, Concord enthusiastically embraced quartz production and by the 1980's it dominated much of the "luxury quartz" market.

During that period Concord reportedly had the largest advertising budget of any Swiss watch company. They dropped about $14 million annually during that era to attract celebrity endorsements from sports figures such as Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Tom Landry and Joe Montana as well as by famed choreographer Martha Graham.

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Concord advertisements appeared in expensive publications like Architectural Digest, The New Yorker, Business Week and Town & Country.

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The TV shows Concord also targeted included Miami Vice, The Love Boat, Hill Street Blues, Dynasty and Charlie's Angels.

These well funded, well placed advertising campaigns were extremely effective in influencing the pre-adult version of me with a luxurious image of vintage Concord that lingers to this day.

Concord had many feats of industry leading innovation that included the first wristwatch made from a coin...

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...and the Delirium in 1979. The Delirium was the thinnest watch ever made at the time at only 1.98mm thick followed by the Delirium 2 at just 1.5mm!

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When not being innovative Concord would frequently, and shamelessly, go in the opposite direction and lean heavily into the designs of other makers such as with this Bennington's "interpretation" of the Cartier Tank.

Concord also produced an obviously Piaget Polo influenced Centurion in 1983 priced at $7500 USD at a time when the Piaget Polo was billed as the "world's most expensive mass produced luxury watch".

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Concord and Piaget were both distributed by NAWC at the time which suggests Piaget wasn't in a position to cry foul about Concord piggybacking off of Piaget's successful Polo design. $7500 USD in 1982 would be over $24000 USD today...for a quartz watch.

NAWC's rebranding as Movado would signal drastic changes for Concord and many Movado missteps would hurt the company. By 2007 Movado closed most of the existing Concord dealerships after having concentrated more attention on the 2004 acquisition of Ebel. This created a large grey market for Concord watches that further hurt Concord's reputation.

2008 marked what would pretty much be the last great hurrah for Concord when their C1 Gravity Tourbillion won the prestigious "Grand Prix d'Hologerie de Geneve" as "Best Design of the Year 2008".

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In 2018 Concord announced the adoption of a new logo mark, the knot, "a symbol of unique legacy being shared through its collaboration with globalpartners". Okay then.

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A visit to the Concord website best illustrates for readers the current state of affairs for modern Concord designs and pricing...

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...though my personal preference is for their vintage offerings which are now nearing a half century in age.

I rarely comment on watches I haven't personally experienced and that would include any contemporary Concord models. Please chime in with your experience of either vintage or modern era Concord watches and especially with any corrections. It would be great to learn more from others.

The Bennington is a real treat to wear with better proportions for my wrist than two other tanks by Cartier my wife mostly wears. I've worn the Concord several times for happy hour and it can easily be dressed up or down especially when switching straps from brown to black. The ease of grabbing a quartz when running out the door for a therapeutic cocktail is a real plus.

I catch myself really admiring the Bennington without any of the baggage that it's a fake Cartier or a modern homage. To me it is simply a period correct Swiss watch produced during the heyday of an historic legacy brand. It well represents an era when quartz watches were cutting edge technology that occasionally fetched big bucks.

If you've made it this far thanks for coming along for the read!

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Great post! I never heard of the brand, or $24K for a quartz watch.

TimeOnTarget

Great post! I never heard of the brand, or $24K for a quartz watch.

Right? The Piaget Polo mentioned in the post is being re-released as an automatic.

Though it is solid gold I don't believe there is more than a grand or two of gold though it's priced at $73,000!

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Thanks for shining a light on an unilluminated corner of the watch world. All I knew about Concord is that they were high end quartz watches when I was wearing Timex and later, Fossil, quartz watches.

Mechanical watches are a my main interest, but I鈥檝e got three great, practical quartz pieces from G-Shock and Seiko. Thanks for a nice review of a brand which was unknown to me and which embraced quartz.

Fascinating!

Thanks for taking the time to write this, very interesting!

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