The Swatch Group

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The Swatch Group Ltd. (SIXUHR, UHRN) is a Swiss company and watch manufacturer.[2] It was formed in 1983 through the merging of the two Swiss watch manufacturers ASUAG and SSIH, and took its present name in 1998 (formerly SMH Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking Industries Ltd). The company is led by G. Nicolas (Nick) Hayek, Jr., son of the late co-founder and chairman Nicolas Hayek.

In 2007, gross sales were 5.94 billion CHF. The Swatch Group has around 23,600 employees.

Contents

History

The Swatch Group formed from two financially troubled predecessor companies:

  • SSIH 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 introduced in 1961 presaged increasing high technology 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, 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 brand in 1972 into a sub holding company, General Watch Co.

ASUAG failed similarly in 1982.

Both groups were reorganized and merged into SSIH/ASUAG Holding Company in 1983. 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, it was renamed SMH in 1986, and ultimately Swatch Group Ltd in 1998.

The launch of the new Swatch brand "Swatch" 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.

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