Why do the Swiss love trains? The simple answer is because in Switzerland, the trains run on time. It's an old adage, yes, but one that still encompasses the attitudes of precision, quality, and reliability at the heart of the Swiss way of life.
Equally adored are Swiss-made timepieces, which those same qualities have made world-famous. Though it may seem odd that a sprawling government system of transportation and a craft perfected through 500+ years of attention to detail could sum up a nation's heritage, these industries define the global concept of Switzerland, and represent deeply held Swiss ideals.
Crisscrossing mountains and cities, carrying millions of visitors and citizens every day with unrivaled punctuality, the rail system is an impressive feat of engineering. In fact, the Swiss travel further on trains than any other people in the world, adding up to a yearly average of 1,403 miles per person 1. It's emotionally significant, too: reaching into every corner, the rail system is the perfect analogy for Switzerland's cross-pollination of diverse cultural influences - French, German, English, Italian and more. For the Swiss, the railways are a part of everyday life, deeply connected to the national values of efficiency and character.
Swiss timepieces, world-famous for their accuracy, became inseparable from the railway legend with the designing of the Swiss station clocks by Hans Hilfiker in 1944. To keep the station time tables completely accurate, the clocks featured mechanized second hands that ran fast for 58 seconds, and paused for 2 seconds, waiting for an electrical signal that synced train and station clocks together every minute, on the minute. This way, trains always leave the station at the full 60-second mark, with machine-like precision. The physical design of the clock is clean and legible, with a cheerful red lollipop of a second hand that nods to the signaling discs once used by conductors. The bright minimalism and obvious intelligence of the design is right in line with the world's view of a culturally and academically advanced nation.
The SBB watch is a natural extension of the combination of these two major forces. It's a fully-realized piece of Swiss cultural heritage, reflecting the most beloved industries in Switzerland. Well, their chocolate and cheese are fairly famous, too - but those don't look nearly as nice on the wrist.
See all styles of the iconic design here.