The reaction of the Swiss Watch Industry to the Apple watch was on the evening news today. I saw the segment with subtitles for the hearing impaired on the overhead television at the gym.
The video showed Nick Hayek, CEO of Swatch Group, looking relaxed and smoking a cigar at a press conference.
Hayek said he was always happy when new competitors arrive. “It’s very enriching because everyone is looking at the Swiss watch industry,” he said. “We are the reference, and that is positive for us.” He said it might create new market opportunities, opening the door to seduce people who until now haven’t been interested in wearing a watch with “all sorts of new functions.”
Jean-Claude Biver, Director of the Watches Division at LVMH said, “For Apple they might have announced it too soon, and for us it isn’t too late.” He continued saying that with the exception of Swatch Group, Switzerland’s watch industry doesn’t have the telecommunications and information technology to be ahead in the smart watch market. On the other hand, the industry has many opportunities to respond the market including partnerships and technological innovations.
According to Le Matin, Biver is planning to buy an Apple watch, but he has predicted that given the rate of technology evolution, it will be obsolete in two years. That’s a good observation. Will people want to buy a new watch every eighteen months? Switzerland’s watch industry will certainly want to play their card with timepieces that stand the test of, well, time.
Jean-Daniel Pasche, President of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, said considering that Swiss expertise lies in microengineering, nanotechnology and electronics, Switzerland possesses the skills to enter the smart watch market. In the end, it’s a business decision, he said.
Le Matin reported that Swatch Group stock was down 2% but Hayek said the drop was due to the value of the Swiss Franc and had nothing to do with recent developments in the industry.