Apple Watch: Swatch CEO whistles past the graveyard

“Nick Hayek, the CEO of Swatch, doesn’t look concerned by the iPhone maker’s arrival on his patch,” Carol Ryan editorializes for Reuters. “He should be.”

“Among Swiss watchmakers, who together produce around 30 million timepieces a year, Swatch looks the most vulnerable. Although it carries premium brands like Breguet, Harry Winston and Omega, up to half its sales are in the lower- to mid-priced ‘masstige’ market – the one Apple is aiming at,” Ryan writes. “Hayek says he has no interest in mimicking Apple’s ‘mini mobile phone on your wrist.’ But the design of the new ‘Swatch Touch’ smartwatch looks unfortunately like a 1980s walkman. If the Apple range takes off, Swatch will clearly be at a design disadvantage in any smartwatch war.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The self-delusion is strong with this one. Hayek seems to have no idea what’s coming his way. Like a deer frozen on the tracks, unblinking ahead of an unstoppable speeding locomotive.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. – George Santayana

Hayek, the latest applicant for entry into The Federation of the Flummoxed™, should read up on Nokia’s former CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo who, in April 2008, described Apple’s iPhone as a “niche product.” The last we heard, Olli-Pekka is currently “spending time with his family.”

Related articles:
Swatch co-inventor: Apple Watch will succeed and an ice age is coming for Swiss watch industry – March 10, 2015
Apple makes roadkill of deer-in-the-headlights CEOs – April 1, 2011


  1. It’s fair to say that nobody in any related business knows what to do in the face of the  Watch introduction. Apple has nuked several business models in the last 18 years. Beating up Swatch, while fun, is merely instructive of what Apple is likely to do to an entire industry.

    1. Apple probably isn’t looking to take over the entire watch industry. Just the most profitable parts. I’m joking. I think Apple is simply exploring new ideas to sell more iPhones whether it happens to be a watch or a car or anything else. If an industry happens to get disrupted, well so be it. Apple is experiencing another period of growth and heaven help those in its path of growth.

  2. What else can he say?

    “A company 200 times larger with a customer base 300 times larger has introduced something that will kill my company. Nothing can be done. I quit, sold my stock to suckers and retired to Gstaad to ski.”

    He’s unlikely to say this publicly.

    1. I doubt AppleWatch will disrupt Swatch’s basic business of selling low-cost trendy watches. Meaning, I don’t think AppleWatch will put Swatch out of business. It might hurt a bit of their profits but that’s all. They’ll just have to figure out a new market which Apple won’t have an interest in. I think Apple always leaves plenty of space for lower-priced rivals to survive which I think is terrific.

      1. Unless the presence of the Apple Watch focuses attention on the fact that trendy armwear is vacuous. To be a real person, put something real on your wrist, Fuel Band or Apple Watch, something. Apple knows this, that’s why they provide a path for some people to differentiate themselves on the basis of price alone.

      2. You are not aware of the size of Swatch. It’s not just the cheap trendy watches. Swatch Group is the world’s largest manufacturer of watches. Swatch Group consists of Breguet, Harry Winston, Blancpain, Omega, Longines, Rado, Tissot, Hamilton, Calvin Klein Watches as well as other brands in other countries. Swatch also makes parts and movements for other Swiss brands like Movado and Tag Heuer. They will DEFINITELY be affected by AppleWatch.

  3. Interesting problem, how should the CEO respond? I mean with his company, not with his PR spin. Is there any response his company could make which might prevent Swatch from being totally disemboweled?
    Back in 2007, I could kind of think of responses for Blackberry or MS or Nokia to stem the iPhone onslaught. But it is very hard to come up with any kind of solutions for Swatch and their ilk (watches priced from $200 – $1500).
    The only thing I could think of is to go in whole hog on building a device which ties into the iOS ecosystem of HealthKit but is somewhat cheaper than the iPhone, i.e. a Swatch version of Pebble or Fitbit which exploits the iOS ecosystem as much as possible.

    But they’d probably have to buy Fitbit or Pebble to accomplish that at this point and it is probably too late.

  4. Oh what fun. Check your quotes MDN.

    “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it”
    ― Sara Shepard, Wanted

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
    – George Santayana, Reason in Common Sense (he’s often misquoted)

    “I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive.”
    ― Kurt Vonnegut

    “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
    ― Edmund Burke
    One of my favorites because he’s the oldest sources about that idea.

    However, on the big scale of things I think that this is being a bit generous, to allow this sort repetition, you know born agains are allowed to die again. The ficticious zombie nation, that can only look forward, not backward and go kill kill kill as they keep coming for more. At this stage, repetition is no longer valid and so the whistles will be the wind coming through the graveyard.

    “A generation which ignores history has no past: and no future.”
    – Lazarus Long, from the works of Robert Heinlein

    “Those who can only look forward and not backward won’t be looking much longer…or anything else for that matter.”
    -Road Warrior

  5. I was going to say something snarky about Balmers comments about the original iPhone but I’ll just tell you how I feel about watches now.

    1) I have a $350 Movato Museum watch. One of the cheapest watches of that type you can get. I’ve had it for over 18 years. I’ll have it for the rest of my life. On special occasions it is the perfect watch to wear.

    2) I will never need I plain watch ever again- time keeping is done with my iPhone.

    3) with the exception of some sort of an emergency where I need a watch which I’ll buy for $10-25, I’ll NEVER EVER BUY ANOTHER WATCH BETWEEN THE PRICE OF 0 and $2000. If I get rich and famous, I MIGHT buy a very expensive watch. Highly unlikely.

    4) I have not seen the Apple Watch yet, but any smart watch that I buy will be tightly intergraded with my phone. And it will be more than a decade before I buy any phone that isn’t an Apple product.

    What does all this mean? Apple by just anouncing a watch has taken the sweet spot for both revenue and profits away from all other watch makers. Forever. Listen up people. It ain’t that hard.

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