The Swatch Group made plastic watches cool. This led to completely different product positioning. Swatch de-linked the watch from its core timekeeping function and turned it into a fashion statement. Watches were no longer about their intricate clockworks — they were now an avenue for self-expression. This shift from technology to fashion would soon become even more important in the age of smartphones and smartwatches. But it would still be decades before anyone knew what a “Home” button was.
For more than 30 years after the launch of the Swatch watch, the industry remained remarkably stable as Switzerland re-established itself as the global watchmaking leader.
It would take the vision and marketing powerhouse of another giant to disrupt the industry once more.
I don’t know if you can definitely say Apple has beaten “Swiss watchmakers at their own game”, but they definitely saw a niche in the watch market no one else was serving. The Apple Watch fascinates me if only for the fact it has gotten so many non-watch people to start wearing a watch and the reasons for wearing one are wide and varied – which is good news for Apple.