MARKETING: Recession Bucker

The solid-state electronic technology that drastically reduced the price and bulk of calculators is now shaking up the watch industry—and producing a trend that defies both inflation and recession. "Quartz" timepieces powered by one-year silver oxide batteries came on the market in 1970, but as late as 1973 yearly sales of the devices were only 176,000. Then last year, despite a 12% rate of national inflation, manufacturing economics enabled sellers to mark down price tags from an average $118 to about $95, and volume jumped to 650,000 even as the recession deepened. Tom M. Hyltin, president of Micro Display Systems,...