For a company that so thoroughly disrupted its own industry, Swatch is being pretty blithe about the impact of wearables.
For those who don’t follow such things, the Swatch Group pretty much remade the watch business over the last 30 years or so by standardizing watch movements and relentlessly driving costs down. It’s the world’s biggest watch maker, and its brands include everything from Breguet, Harry Winston and Omega, to Longines and Hamilton, to Swatch and Flik Flak. If you own a watch not made in Japan, odds are very good that either it’s made by Swatch or its movement was made by Swatch.
But here’s a story (from AFP by way of iAfrica, citing Reuters) quoting Swatch CEO exec Nick Hayek:
“We have all the know-how but we do not want to build up stock of technology bombs people won’t want to buy.” As such the company believes that wristwatches will be able to hold their own in the market for at least the next five years.
We get the “technology bomb” comment; this tech business moves fast and its graveyard is large. There will probably always be room at the top of the market for luxury goods, so Swatch will at least survive. In the scheme of things, though, five years is not a very long time — and Swatch has a lot to lose. Here’s hoping that Hayek has a skunkworks somewhere, and that his engineers are more motivated than their company seems to be.