Victor Hugo’s realization that “nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come” aptly applies to an idea that occurred to Gottlieb Hauser. Two years before the French author of the aphorism ended his life, Hauser, a watchmaker in Winterthur, founded in the context of the national exhibition in Zurich in 1883 an association which would later become the source of the Alpina watch label. The constitutional assembly took place in Zurich’s Kronen Hall on May 8, 1883.
But we’re getting ahead of our story. A deeper background was behind the founding of the “SchweizerischeUhrmacher-Corporation” (i.e., “Swiss Watchmaker Corporation”) in the late 19th Century. During this epoch, more and more consumer cooperatives and department stores were increasingly gaining footholds in the marketplace. Small and midsized retailers were particularly hurt by the stronger competition. Ongoing competitive battles called for countermeasures, e.g., communal purchasing of merchandise in accord with the idea that unity confers strength. By joining together to purchase goods, the syndicated business could exert greater pressure on suppliers and negotiate more favorable prices. The members stood behind these purchasing syndicates as principal equity investors, so the legal form of the cooperative association played an important role.