This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Swiss Watch Brand Swatch. Today, The Swatch Group is the world’s largest watch company and continues to experience solid growth. Swatch is the story of a revolution in the watch industry. It is about mindset shift from the functional to the emotional. In the late 1970’s a Swiss Watch was a work of careful craftmanship, a uniquely valuable, expensive timepiece handed down from one generation to the next. It was the expression of a culture where changes took place very slowly. Swiss watches were a functional purchase. The market was then flooded with less expensive high quality quartz watches from Asia. The Swiss share of the watch market dropped from 50% to 15% and 65,000 jobs were lost. Swiss watchmakers were facing extinction.
In 1983, Swatch introduced an affordable, Swiss made plastic watch that changed the market. Swatch watches were much more than a precision instrument to measure time. Swatch watches were different. Swatch was a personal expression, an attitude, an emotion, a fashion statement. Swatch watches were casual, fun and relatively disposable accessories. The name Swatch is a contraction of “Second Watch”.
Everyone knows a Swatch when they see one. There’s clearly something that makes Swatch different from every other watch brand. The look, the colours, the plastic? The design, perhaps, or the fact that it’s Swiss made and versatile enough to be worn with almost anything. There are Swatch watches for people of all ages, and a Swatch for every occasion. Swatch is an attitude, an approach to life.
Nicholas Hayek of Swatch does a great job of describing the Swatch Brand. “Emotional products are about a message – a strong exciting distinct message that tells people who you are and why you do what you do. There are many elements that make up the Swatch message. High quality, low-cost, provocative, joy of life, But the most important element of the Swatch message is the hardest for others to copy. Ultimately we are not offering watches. We are offering our own personal culture.”
Swatch’s marketing is designed to cultivate a youthful image. Swatch has been promoting and supporting action and lifestyle sports since its beginning. This includes the TTR World Snowboard Tour, Swatch Freeride Tour, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, and a team of snowboarding, freeskiing and surfing athletes.
In recent years, the Swatch Group has diversified by purchasing a number of Swiss luxury brands. Recently Swatch purchased Canada’s Harry Winston watch and jewelry brand. Swatch is a great example of a brand that changed the rules of a category by shifting the conversation from functional to the emotional.
Do you own a SWATCH?