Friday, August 20, 2010

A Tribute to the Man behind the Swatch

The world famous Swiss watch industry lost a leading figure recently with the death of Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek on June 28, aged 82. Mr. Hayek was born on February 19, 1928, in Lebanon and at the age of seven emigrated to Switzerland, where he became a Swiss citizen.

A pioneering and charismatic entrepreneur, Mr. Hayek, co-founder and former Chairman of the Swatch Group, is widely credited with reviving the Swiss watch industry in the 1980s when it was under threat from mass-produced, low-cost electronic timepieces. The innovative strategies he implemented in the early 1980s breathed new life into the entire Swiss watch industry, enabling it to regain its leading position worldwide. The industry, Switzerland’s third largest exporter after the machine and chemical industries, sells nearly 95 percent of its production to overseas markets.

Mr. Hayek was a decisive force in the launch in 1983 of the Swatch watch, an icon of popular culture.

In developing the Swatch phenomenon, Mr. Hayek’s unique entrepreneurial talent combined “disposability, affordability and reliability” to deliver a range of colorful, trendy and low-cost plastic watches for every occasion. The Swatch’s innovative mechanism has only 51 parts compared to the over 91 parts in a conventional watch. Its avant-garde designs made Swatch a fashion statement. Its low cost means that fashion-conscious consumers can own several Swatches to suit mood and occasion. In a recent interview, Mr. Hayek said, “I am not making watches only to look at the time. I am making jewels! They are jewels!”

Today Swatch launches some 300 designs a year and is one of the largest users of WIPO’s Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs which offers a cost-effective way to protect designs internationally by filing a single application, in one language (English, French or Spanish) and in one currency (Swiss francs). About half of the designs Swatch launches each year are phased out after six months, making them highly collectible. A 1988 fake-fur Swatch is reported to have been recently valued at £18,500 (approx. US$28,316).

Mr. Hayek was a master of marketing, introducing simple ideas to leverage the reputation, prestige and exclusivity of the Swatch Group’s stable of 19 watch brands, including Breguet, Calvin Klein, Longines, Tissot and Omega. In a recent interview with the Indian daily MINT, Mr. Hayek outlined the company’s approach to branding. “We have a unique message for each of our brands. This is a very strong part of how we operate”. For example, the message for the Jaquet-Droz brand is “Eternity - the Ultimate Luxury”. The Swatch Group is a regular user of WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, a user-friendly and cost-effective option for registering and managing trademarks internationally.
Full article -WIPO Magazine

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