4 Reasons Why Switzerland is an Innovation Nation

Solar Impulse - Golden Gate Bridge

A recent report from the European Union has confirmed what those who live in Chocolateland already know: Switzerland is the "most innovative" country in Europe.

It’s easy to see why CH has won the top spot, not even considering the recent success of the Swiss-invented airplane, Solar Impulse, which has just set records in its flights across the United States as the absolute slowest powered flying machine ever.

Three other examples of Swiss innovation:

Swatch: Less is Best

This year, giant Swiss watchmaker Swatch unveiled its technologically ground-breaking, beautifully designed and poorly spelled, "Sistem51" watch, which has guess-how-many moving parts.

This is said to be the fewest moving parts of any mechanical watch in the world. Astounding. Until you consider that cheap digital watches which also keep excellent time and look very cool have no moving parts – and some of these are also made by Swatch.

Nevertheless, the Sistem51 Swatches are clearly bold innovations of internal construction and external design. If only you could glance at them and actually tell what time it is:

Swatch Sistem51 - by Gizmodo
 

Train Toilet Panoramas

The superb Swiss train system (SBB/CC/FFS) never stops improving itself. Now it has begun upgrading its on-train toilet stalls with pretty wall-to-wall-floor-to-ceiling photo-panoramas mostly of bucolic outdoor scenes.

For those of us who love nothing better than answering the call of nature while we’re actually out there, this is a close second-best. However, SBB/CFF/FFS might want to rethink the wrap-around blue sky and clouds that suggest you’re doing your business at an altitude where airline passengers might see you out the window.

This can make a guy dizzy, and that will surely lead to more work for the cleaning crews.

SBB CFF FFS Train WC Toilet Panorama
 

Creative Cheese Consumption

In a nation where there are more kinds of cheese than members of the Federal Assembly (450 vs. 246), it's no surprise that the Swiss have numerous ways to enjoy these sometimes stinky products (cheeses, not politicians).

Fondue is well known and needs no explanation. Another preparation of melted cheese, raclette, is quite smelly and requires pickles and potatoes, so the less said the better.

Lesser known, more artistic, lighter and yummier are the blossoms of cheese made by the Girolle, a Swiss-invented utensil that might be mistaken for either an instrument of torture or a sex toy.

This compact, affordable instrument does one thing quickly and beautifully: it shaves a small wheel of hard cheese into lovely, tasty, bite-size rosettes that resemble chanterelle mushrooms (also known as girolle).

And yes, if you can find a chocolate hockey puck, it works with that too.

Girolle Cheese Grater(Picture copyright by Wildfeuer/Wikicommons)
 

The Future of Swiss Innovation

With such impressive Swiss innovations already part of our daily lives here, one must wonder what is on the horizon. Perhaps carving knives whose cutting edge is a profile of the Alps? Or maybe a Swiss Salvation Army rock band? How about an affordable apartment in Geneva?

Actually, two of these three innovations already exist.

Bill Harby

An award-winning freelance writer, editor and photographer based in Neuchâtel and Volcano, Hawai‘i, Bill is frequently called upon to be "funny." His stories have garnered him a select coterie of loyal readers and legions of others who couldn't care less. For more of Bill’s work: www.billharby.com