Delirium (watch)

The “Delirium” is the Swiss watch still holding today the world record of thinness [ref. Necessary] with less than 2 mm total thickness. Designed in 1978, it was marketed from 1979 by only 4 duly selected watch brands.


In 1978, at the height of the Japanese offensive in quartz watches, the Swiss watch industry was still far behind (ref. Required] . It was therefore necessary to react quickly, especially in the competition of then towards thinness, a certain advantage of quartz on mechanical movements. ETA Manufacture Horlogère launched a search for a solution to beat the Japanese on their own ground: to make the thinnest watch in the world, so make a watch less than 2 mm thick!


Traditionally the movement of the watch was separated from the box, all parts being supported by a plate . The Swiss components available at the time were too thick for a conventional construction. It was necessary to innovate: hence the idea of ​​using the bottom of the box as a platinum supporting all the parts of the movement. The project was completed in 6 months. With the Delirium, the box was then joined to the movement. The watch thus made a whole. The idea could be patented because it was the first time that the new technical means were used to use the bottom of the box as the base plate of the watch. Subsequently, the Swatch adopted the same principle, for the sake of economy in automated production.


The distribution was entrusted to four watchmaking brands that were able to avail themselves of its design and production, when in fact ETA was both at the same time. Approximately 11,000 watches were produced and sold. This was an appreciable commercial success, in view of the sale price of more than 4’500 dollars at the time. [ref. necessary]

Moreover, it was an invaluable success of prestige [ref. Necessary] , which the Swiss watchmaking industry was in great need at the time [ref. Required] . The Japanese industry stopped selling their own model and looking to beat the record again. [ref. necessary]

Origin of name

The designer, Maurice Grimm , called his project according to a play of words corresponding perfectly to the challenge: delirium tremens , “very thin”, unfortunately only understandable in French. So the name was shortened to Delirium .

Sources and Reference

  • Maurice Grimm, designer watchmaker  [ archive ]
  • Concord 1979 launch of the Delirium  [ archive ]
  • Boxes of watches and bracelets: Technological advances for the manufacture of boxes  [ archive ] . “They introduced the extra-flat boxes and favored the construction of special gauges such as the” Delirium “, whose later developments allowed it to become the caliber used in the current Swatch .
  • IT is inspired by watchmaking  [ archive ]

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