Will the Swatch Group save the industry again?

When it comes to Swiss made watch, many people think of expensive and luxury watch with over 100 years of history. Indeed, the Swatch Group, a young 30 years old company was a savior of Swiss watchmaking industry in early 80s. It not only saved Swiss watchmaking industry, but also helped Swiss to regain the honor for watchmaking. Today, mobile device can act as a watch to tell you the time, watch is not an essential product. Will the Swatch Group save the watch industry again?

In 1970s, Asia, especially Japan, manufactured a lot of cheap swatches and sold to the world. In 1978, Japan introduced watch that the case was 2.5mm thick using quartz as movement. At that time, no matter how clever the watchmakers were, they can never reduce the thickness of the automatic watches as thin as those quartz watches. The far-east quartz watches were light and cheap that changed the watch industry completely. No one wants to wear heavy and bulky watch. As a result, Swiss watch industry market share dropped from 50% to 15%.

In order to renown as the crown of watchmaking industry, a Swiss watchmaking company, ASUAG, developed the world thinnest wrist watch. That watch was 0.98mm thick. Every new product requires a lot of testing and refinement before mass production. This world thinnest watch was the same. The company used 3 more years to refine 91 watch parts into 51 parts. The case material was cheap plastic, so that it was light.

Swatch Watch

A Classic Swatch Watch

In 1983, this watch was launched to the market with a series of colorful watches. The watch was called “Swatch”. The success of Swatch watches transformed the watch from a timepiece into trendy fashion. ASUAG was merged with SSIH and renamed as Swatch Group in the same year.

Last year, Swatch introduced a series of automatic wrist watch with around 170 USD dollar. It is really a good deal for those who want to buy an affordable automatic watch. However, nowadays, the watch market is going to change again. With the raise of the mobile phone, watch is not the only way to tell the time. Apple is developing iWatch, a smartphone wearing on the wrist. It seems that Microsoft is doing the same thing. Let’s see how Swatch Group, or the whole Swiss watchmaking industry, response to this potential new trend.