Swatch was born at a time when the Swiss watch industry was being crushed by the quartz crisis. In 1983, two of the biggest Swiss groups
ASUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG) and SSIH (Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère SA) merged and started looking for a fun new product that would appeal to the entry-level buyer. The first watches, called the Popularis, were developed by Ernst Thomke who presented his vision to Dr. Nicolas G. Hayek. Together they produced a watch that would cost no more than CHF 50, would feature a quartz movement, an analog display, and would be made of plastic, and the Swatch was born.
Five interesting facts about Swatch
- The name Swatch comes from the words “second” and “watch”.
- At the height of the quartz crisis, the percentage of Swiss timepieces manufactured fell from 43% to less than 15%, with 90,000 watchmaking jobs reduced to 40,000.
- Swatch created the Art Special in 1985, a program that would see collaborations with world-famous artists such as Keith Haring, Vivienne Westwood, Kiki Picasso, Alfred Hofkunst, and Damien Hirst, to name a few.
- Swatch was the first watch brand to create pop-up shops.
- Long before connected watches were all the range, Swatch made a Snowpass model that allowed skiers to charge their watch up for use as a ski pass. It worked in over 700 ski areas worldwide.
Brand ID Card
Company status: Public limited company of the Swatch Group
Senior Management: Nick Hayek, President and CEO
Number of employees: Undisclosed
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Retail prices in USD: From USD 55
Annual production: Undisclosed