What the world looked like when Baloise was founded in 1863

Lukas Jöhri
July 1, 2020
Innovation, Strategy
In this blog we take you on a journey and show you the economic, political and social conditions under which Baloise was founded in Switzerland in 1863.

Germany does not exist yet, Switzerland is surrounded by war

In the year it was founded, the world looked very different from today: Germany does not yet exist, the Kingdom of Italy has only existed for two years and its eastern neighbour is the Empire of Austria. In addition, Napoleon III has recently turned France into an empire again and is making Europe insecure. Numerous wars around and inside Switzerland complicate everyday life and impoverish populations. Life takes place mostly in the countryside, a good half of the people in Europe and Switzerland work in agriculture.

Machines replace humans - the population resists progress

Tools such as ploughs or looms are taking over an ever greater part of the manual work, until certain jobs are completely taken over by machines towards the end of the century. The population resists progress by actively organizing numerous riots. Many Swiss emigrate to North and South America to escape the poor working conditions. Not everyone liked these changes - as is the case today - but the world changed rapidly in the 19th century:

  • 1805 – The first alpine pass in Switzerland can be travelled by coach, only walking was possible beforehand.
  • 1835 – Start of the Gotthard Post service for post and passengers. However, the carriage had to be changed at the cantonal border between Uri and Ticino, as the postal companies only operated on a cantonal basis.
  • 1844 – The railway connection from Basel to Strasbourg is opened, as the first railway section in Switzerland.
  • 1851 – Foundation of the Konsumverein Zürich (today part of Coop, a supermarket chain)
  • 1849 – The first asphalt pavement is tested in Neuchâtel
  • 1874 – Compulsory schooling is introduced throughout Switzerland (basics such as reading and writing)
  • 1877 – prohibition of child labour (under 14 years of age)

Baloise has always changed

Today, we still face similar issues as people are afraid of loosing their jobs to machines. The environment and the demands on companies are constantly changing - and above all: faster and faster. Along with the environment, Baloise must also adapt itself and its products to new standards that replace practices that it had been successful with for the last decades. What is changing, however, is that at today's speed, many traditional processes, such as those in product development, no longer work out. Faster product lifecycles increase the risk of bringing outdated and unwanted products onto the market and the good products are being copied in no time.

Because of these rapid changes, we must anticipate today what trends and future changes will happen tomorrow. In the following blogs we show impactful trends and developments from the Future of Mobility Trend Report and their possible impact on Baloise.

The main source on the historical data can be accessed on the website of the EDA.