Jean-Louis Gassée on Swatch’s decision to roll its own Watch OS

Swatch is a major player in the watch space. To give a sense of their size, The Swatch Group employs about 36,000 people. Jean-Louis Gassée writes about the Swatch’s move into the smart watch space and their decision to avoid Android Wear and roll their own solution from scratch.

I found the whole read interesting, but wanted to highlight this bit about how Swatch was born:

Lebanese-born and Europe-schooled, Nicolas Hayek père was a genius.

In 1983, two venerable but mortally ailing Swiss watch industry companies, ASUAG and SSIH, called Hayek to their bedside to perform the last rites and liquidations. The companies had been unable to withstand competition from Japanese quartz watch manufacturers such as Seiko, Casio and Citizen. It was the humane thing to do.

But rather than pull the plug, Hayek demonstrated his unique combination of management, technology, and marketing savvy by making a counter-intuitive decision: In the middle of the “quartz crisis”, Hayek refused to give up on traditional mechanical designs. He merged the two entities and adopted a project from subsidiary ETA SA, whose CEO, Ernst Thomke, and two engineers, Elmar Mock and Jacques Müller, had come up with a simplified mechanical design that used only 51 pieces when 150 was considered the minimum.

As an aside, the name Swatch was built from Second Watch, not Swiss Watch (as I was told as a kid).

And spoiler, Jean-Louis thinks this move by Swatch will not help it compete against Apple Watch.



  • Mo

    How can it help? They’re already years behind on developing their own OS, something they have no expertise or experience creating.

    • drx1

      I am fairly sure Gasse is implying where “Swatch” and its companies succeed vs the “Quartz Crisis”, they may not fair so well vs the “Smart Watch Crisis” … besides the microfilm list/chart in the middle of the article – it was pretty good.

  • Ruurd Pels

    Ja ja. Swatch. When was that again? End of last century something something… And now they’re going to do a watch os from scratch. Yeah. Right.