This article was written and contributed by Jonathan Fairfield, a Writer and English Teacher living in Thailand
Concord is another one of those redoubtable Swiss watch brands that seems to have been around forever, but one which you rarely hear much about. This is despite the brand being over one hundred years old and originating from Biel, Switzerland, home to arguably the most famous of Swiss watchmakers, Rolex.
Truman and Churchill
Founded in 1908, the then Concord Watch Company began producing high end quality watches, which were aimed at the American market. Throughout its history, Concord has been known for creating innovative timepieces. Interestingly, they were the first company to make a wristwatch out of gold coins, as well as being one of the first luxury watch makers to incorporate gem stones and precious metals into the design of its watches. Another little known fact is that President Truman once presented Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin with Concord watches in 1945, even though history shows Churchill remained faithful to his Breguet pocket watch he called the Turnip.
However, it wasn’t until the late 1970’s when Concord really started to make its name. Its major breakthrough came in the form of the Delirium Watch, which at the time was the world’s thinnest wristwatch, at just 1.98mm thick. The brand later went on to release a second version of the Delirium, which proved to be even thinner, with a thickness of just 1.5mm.
A change of direction
Following a prolonged period of sluggish sales, 2007 saw Concord undertake what can only be described as a dramatic change in its philosophy and vision. In a bid to move away from the ‘grey’ non-descript market that Concord had by now fallen into, the decision was made to close most of its watch dealerships and instead focus on the highly targeted and ever popular luxury sports watch market.
Later that year saw the launch of the highly anticipated C1, which was designed to compete against watches from brands such as Hublot, Audemars Piguet and Panerai. By now there were only a few hundred Concord dealers throughout the world, the brand was looking to re-launch itself into the luxury watch market on a grand scale. Although a Concord marketing exec might say otherwise, it remains to be seen whether or not this grand re-launch has been a success.
As well as the Delirium, some of Concord’s most notable collections from before 2007 include Mariner, La Scala and Saratoga.
The Delirium is perhaps still Concord’s most famous timepiece. This breakthrough watch, which featured a quartz movement, was very much seen as the Swiss watch industry’s answer to the Japanese manufacturers, (Seiko in particular) who had been using quartz movements since 1969. In fact, some might say that had the Swiss watch industry not introduced quartz production when it did, it may have almost died as a result. However, the Swiss, having originally developed quartz and rejected it, Concord and other Swiss brands soon proved that they could make quartz movements just as well as the Japanese or anyone else, for that matter.
The introduction of a quartz movement in an ultra thin watch such as the Delirium was proof indeed of Swiss manufacturing finesse. From 1979, Concord released a number of different versions of the Delirium, for both men and women, which were available in 18k white or rose gold with either a leather or bracelet strap. They even released a Chronograph version, while some had a mechanical rather than a quartz movement.
1980 saw Concord launch its Mariner collection, which was their first step into the ‘sport elegance’ category. Although it has been updated in a number of different guises and flavours since, according to Concord, the Mariner was originally meant to unite the functionality of a sports watch, with the refinement of a dress watch. The one shown here is the Concord Mariner XL, which is made from solid polished steel and features an automatic ETA 2892 COSC movement. The blue tone dial has partial silver Arabic numerals, with a date display at 6 o’clock. The case measures 41mm. It is also water resistant to approximately 100 feet.
Launched for the first time in 1991 at Basel World, Concord’s Sirius was another milestone of some significance as it was arguably their first true luxury timepiece. The watch itself is made from platinum and contains 295 diamonds, which total 64.16 carats. The Sirius is really quite something and you certainly couldn’t mistake it for a sports watch!
Concord C1 Chronograph
As mentioned , the C1 was launched in 2007 as Concord’s attempt to cement itself as the leading producer of luxury sports watches. The C1 is available in several different versions and colour schemes. The one shown here is the popular 18k rose gold version, which features 53 individual elements and offers a 48hr power reserve. In addition the watch is also officially certified by the Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. This particular C1 comes with a three layer dial which is used to display the date. The case measures 44mm in diameter and is water resistant to 200m
Concord C2 Black Chronograph
When it was launched in the early part of 2012, the C2 Chronograph carried on where the C1 had left off. However, there are a few differences between the C2 and its predecessor. Most notably, the C2 is slightly smaller, at 43mm in diameter. The C2 also features a number of aesthetic differences, such as a tri-compax layout for its chronograph, rather than the 12-6-9 ‘Valjoux’ arrangement, and the eight tabs which surround the bezel on the C2 assume a slightly lower profile. The dial itself retains pretty much the same legibility and multi-level effect. Underneath the dial you’ll find a 37 jewel automatic ETA 2894-2 movement, which beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour. Like the C1, the newer version also features a 48hr power reserve.
Concord Brand Ambassadors
It’s fair to say that the sporting stars that have been chosen by Concord as ambassadors for the C1 aren’t necessarily that well known outside of their respective sports. Take for example the Paris St Germain’s Argentine footballer, Javier Pastore, pictured here happily wearing his C1. Now, make no mistake, Pastore is a decent player, however, you could argue that he would appear some way down the list of the current best crop of Argentine footballers – Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez. All these would spring to mind before Pastore. Maybe Lionel Messi was too busy winning the Champions League or the FIFA Ballon d’Or to be able to get a snap of him wearing a C1 Chronograph!
Concord Mariner picture courtesy of TMK, Watchuseek forum