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Swatch Group CEO: Smartwatches will not replace watches

Nick Hayek, CEO of Swatch Group, world’s largest watchmaker, told Bloomberg his company will not join the race to develop the first smartwatch. “You won’t see us participating in a race of who’s going to introduce what first,” Hayek said. “There’s still big resistance from the consumer, so we’re going to wait.”

Hayek says his company has all the technology it needs to make a smartwatch. His plan is to sell components to others, a quiet way to benefit from a potential revolution in the $62 billion watch industry. If demand crystallizes, the company is ready to jump in and push a smartwatch through its extensive distribution network.

Swatch knows the perils of moving too fast. The company still has unsold models of a 1991 pager that flopped, and of the Paparazzi, a mid-2000s attempt with Microsoft Corp. to sell a watch that could receive messages and stock quotes.

”’I believe in the smartwatch, but not as a replacement for watches,” said Hayek, who wears a timepiece on each arm but uses an older model Nokia mobile phone that does little more than make voice calls. “If a market for smart objects on the wrist really develops, then we’ll be there.”

Swatch Group has been getting increasingly frequent visits from tech companies interested in its smartwatch expertise, Hayek said. Yet he remains skeptical of the concept, saying the disadvantages include small screens, the need to recharge batteries, and that they often require two hands to use effectively. Consumers also want to change their timepieces and don’t wear the same thing to an opera and to the beach, he said.

“Many developers in the electronics devices industry only think about technology, not about the beauty and emotions of the product itself,” Hayek said

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