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The Swatch Group Ltd is a Swiss manufacturer of watches and jewellery. The company was founded in 1983 by Nicolas Hayek from the merger of Allgemeine Gesellschaft der Schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie (ASUAG) and Société Suisse pour l'Industrie Horlogère (SSIH), in order to cope with the quartz crisis and save the Swiss watchmaking industry.[2][3][4]

The Swatch Group employs about 36,000 people in 50 countries. In 2016, net sales were 7.533 billion Swiss francs (CHF), decreasing 11% from 2015 results. In addition to the Swatch product line, the group also owns other brands, including Blancpain, Breguet, Glashütte Original, Harry Winston, Longines, Omega, Tissot, and RADO.[5][6]


SSIH (Société Suisse pour l'Industrie Horlogère), originated in 1930 with the merger of the Omega and Tissot companies. Swiss watch quality was high, but new technology, such as the Hamilton Electric watch introduced in 1957 and the Bulova Accutron tuning fork watch in 1961, presaged increasing technological competition.

In the late 1970s, SSIH became insolvent due in part to a recession and in part to heavy competition from inexpensive Asian-made quartz crystal watches. These difficulties occurred even though it had become Switzerland's largest, and the world's third largest, producer of watches. Its creditor banks assumed control in 1981.

ASUAG (Société Générale de l'Horlogerie Suisse SA), formed in 1931, was the world's largest producer of watch movements and the parts thereof (balance wheels, balance springs (spiral), assortments, watch stones ("rubis"). ASUAG had also integrated an array of watch brands in 1972 into a sub-holding company, General Watch Co. ASUAG failed similarly in 1982.

The Swatch Group was formed in 1983 as ASUAG/SSIH from the two financially-troubled predecessor companies, ASUAG and SSIH.[7][8] Taken private in 1985 by then-CEO Nicolas Hayek, with the understanding of the Swiss banks and the financial assistance of a group of Swiss private investors (in particular Stephan Schmidheiny and Esther Grether), it was renamed SMH (Société de Microélectronique et d'Horlogerie) in 1986, and ultimately Swatch Group Ltd in 1998.[7]

The launch of the new "Swatch" brand of watch in 1983, by the then ETA SA CEO Ernst Thomke and his young team of engineers, was marked by bold new styling and design. The quartz watch was redesigned for manufacturing efficiency and fewer parts. This combination of marketing and manufacturing expertise restored Switzerland as a major player in the world wristwatch market.


Over the years, the Swatch Group has acquired several watchmaker companies, such as Blancpain S. A. (founded 1735, bought by Swatch in 1992),[9] Breguet S. A. (founded 1775, bought in 1999),[10] and Glashütte Original (Germany, bought in 2000). All three brands are prominent members of its range of products today.

The most recent acquisition was HW Holding Inc., owner of Harry Winston, Inc. in New York, USA, a jewellery and luxury watch company. The transaction closed on 26 March 2013 for 711 million Swiss Francs.[11] Nayla Hayek became CEO. The company bought the world's biggest flawless blue diamond, The Winston Blue, on 15 May 2014.[12]

The following list includes the brands owned by the Swatch Group.[5][6]

Watch manufacturing

Swatch subsidiary ETA SA, which is based in Grenchen, Switzerland, furnishes many OEM brands, such as LVMH (which markets TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith watch lines) and Richemont (which markets amongst others, Baume & Mercier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Montblanc, Officine Panerai, Piaget SA and Vacheron Constantin).[13]

The Swatch Group Electronic System includes:

  • Belenos Clean Power AG.[14]
  • EM Microelectronic-Marin: Designs and produces ultra-low power, low voltage mixed-signal integrated circuits, LCD and modules. IC Product lines include RFID, microcontroller, smart card, ASIC, RTC, reset circuit, watchdog, LCD driver, opto ICs.
  • Micro Crystal: produces miniature low power quartz crystals and small low power oscillators.
  • Renata: develops and produces micro batteries. Product lines include button cells and rechargeable (Lithium Polymer) batteries.

In 1998, Swatch invented "Swatch Internet Time", intended as a global time system, which divides the day into 1000 "beats" in a single worldwide time zone.[15]

In October 2004, Swatch introduced its first smart watch, the Paparazzi, based on Microsoft Corporation's SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology.)

The Swatch Group started offering their first class in the Nicolas G. Hayek Watchmaking School for aspiring watchmakers in September 2005, and this school is located in Miami, Florida, USA. Other watchmaker schools situated in Glashütte, Germany; Okmulgee, USA; Pforzheim, Germany; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Shanghai, China.


Swiss Timing, under brands such as Omega, Longines, and Tissot, provide timing services for sporting events such as Formula One, Olympic Games, Tour de France, and Equestrian events.[16]

In 1994, Swatch entered into a joint venture with Germany's Daimler AG to produce the Smart car, but they later withdrew from this project.[17]

Swatch subsidiary Belenos Clean Power AG entered into a joint venture with the Paul Scherrer Institut in May 2008 to develop a hydrogen fuel cell for a fuel cell powered car.[18] Swatch began test drives of the car in Switzerland in 2012. However, the Swatch Group decided to abandon the project for a fuel cell powered car in June 2015 and concentrate instead on a new type of battery with high storage capacity.[19]

See also

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