Editorial: That Time I Wrote That 'Swatch Group' Was A Dumb Name, And What Happened Next

Editorial: That Time I Wrote That 'Swatch Group' Was A Dumb Name, And What Happened Next

Watch companies love commemorations. In this period of hyper-advertising, any commemoration distinct by five is deserving of firecrackers and commemorative restricted releases. (Just commemorations separable by 25 used to get that treatment.)

There is, however, an industry achievement coming up that isn’t probably going to stand out enough to be noticed. Truth be told, the solitary individual giving it any idea likely could be little ole me. 

Twenty years prior, on June 24, 1998, the world’s biggest fake watch prices company changed its name from the SMH Group to the Swatch Group. While little recollected today, the choice was dubious at that point. Particularly inside SMH. On the off chance that you were a chief at, say, Omega or Longines or Blancpain or fill-in-the-clear, you weren’t so obsessed with your multi-billion-dollar parent company changing its corporate character to that of a $45 plastic watch.

Nicolas G. Hayek. (Photograph: kindness Breguet)

As the twentieth commemoration of the name change draws near, I am aware of that contention. That is on the grounds that I contradicted the move, and, in a strange new development, SMH Chairman Nicolas G. Hayek, Sr., became persuaded that I was driving an investor rebel against it.

First, some foundation. I began my fake watch prices revealing profession not long before Hayek showed up on the Swiss fake watch prices scene in the mid 1980s. Hayek, obviously, is a Swiss fake watch prices legend. He is properly hailed as the rescuer of the Swiss fake watch prices industry during probably the breaking point in its set of experiences, the quartz-watch emergency. The instrument with which he did it was SMH, a company he imagined and drove from its creation in 1983 out of two monster Swiss fake watch prices firms that were draining red ink.

Hayek was perhaps the most splendid, capable, appealling, competitive, combative, and fruitful men at any point to go to a fake watch prices processing plant or leader suite. (Furthermore, one of the most amusing. No falsehood: He was once included in a Swiss TV program called “What Makes Nicolas Hayek Laugh.”) I covered his whole watch-industry vocation intently, from the mid 1980s until his demise at work at Swatch Group central command in Bienne on June 28, 2010, at the period of 82.

Hayek facilitating French president Jacques Chirac (left) and Swiss Federal Councilor Flavio Cotti at SMH headquarters.

But there was a word related risk to being the ringside journalist at the heavyweight fake watch prices champ’s huge sessions. Hayek had a fighter’s senses. “Remember, I am a contender,” he advised me once, in an uncommon break in his activity filled profession. “On the off chance that there is no battle, I become extremely exhausted. That is the thing that Nick Hayek has been missing of late,” he complained. “No fights.” 

In covering him for a very long time, one couldn’t abstain from at times getting yanked into the ring and compelled to fight with him. It had happened to me in 1992, when he was enraged about an article I composed that he thought about unreasonable. We contended about it on the telephone and in an unprofitable trade of letters. He cut me off for some time. Eventually, we fixed it up, yet the experience was unpleasant.

With the Swatch Group name change debate, it happened again. 

The Name Game

It all began on February 19, 1998, when SMH declared its monetary outcomes for 1997, and some other news. The company had an extraordinary year. It detailed record deals, passing the 3 billion Swiss franc mark interestingly, with working benefit up 53.6% and net benefit up 24.5%. 

It likewise declared that Nick Hayek, Jr., Hayek’s child, had been elevated to the top occupation at the Swatch brand.

Then came this: “At the present gathering, the Board of Directors chose to propose to the General Meeting of Shareholders to change the name SMH into ‘The Swatch Group of Switzerland SA.’ Or into another name including the name ‘Swatch.’ The Group Management Board has been approached to submit proposals.”

The front of the last SMH yearly report (left), showing model Tyra Banks wearing only a Swatch Skin fake watch prices the principal Swatch Group yearly report (right).

It took me a moment to deconstruct those three sentences. What they implied was that Hayek had chosen to discard the SMH name. He and the governing body had charged the SMH’s 10-part the executives board to submit recommendations for another name. That board comprised of the association’s top heads, as Blancpain CEO Jean-Claude Biver, Rado boss Roland Streule, ETA strongman Tony Bally, and head of legitimate issues Hanspeter Rentsch, just as Hayek père et fils. The last decision would be submitted to the company’s investors for endorsement at its yearly gathering in June. 

The look for another name had one standard: it needed to contain “Swatch.” Why? The assertion clarified: “The current name is extremely complicated, and the shortening is hard to comprehend in the different fundamental dialects. With the decision of ‘Swatch’ included the gathering’s name, the overall reputation [sic] of the brand is contemplated.” (“Notoriety” is a helpless interpretation of the first German content. Swatch was renowned, not famous. Reputation hints ominous fame.) 

This thought struck me as indiscreet for bunches of reasons. In those days I was proofreader of a fake watch prices exchange magazine called American Time. I likewise composed a fake watch prices section for each issue of a sister distribution, National Jeweler, an adornments industry news newspaper. I chose to address the proposed name change in my section in NJ. 

Swatch Theory

I was very much aware that the Swatch brand had an exceptional importance for Hayek. It assumed a significant part in the recovery of Swiss fake watch prices fortunes and the ascent of SMH during the 1980s. In any case, it had been a long time since Swatch was dispatched, and the fake watch prices was not, at this point a sensation. By the last part of the 1990s, deals had followed off despite hardened competition from Fossil, Guess and other Hong-Kong-made design fake watch prices (As Professor Pierre-Yves Donzé notes in his 2014 book, “A Business History of the Swatch Group, “By and large, deals of Swatch fake watch prices didn’t proceed on a similar level as during the initial 10 years of the brand’s existence.”)

A original 1983 Swatch. (Photograph: graciousness swatchandbeyond.com)

An early Swatch Automatic. (Photograph: graciousness SwatchAndBeyond.com)

Moreover, by 1998, the mechanical fake watch prices renaissance was well in progress. Hayek realized that, obviously. He and Swatch were instrumental in it. He dispatched the Swatch Automatic in 1991, he advised me on a few events, to keep creation of hairsprings going at SMH’s Nivarox-FAR during the lean long periods of the quartz era. 

Around a similar time, he consented to obtain for Omega the Co-hub innovation that George Daniels had been looking fruitlessly in Switzerland for a very long time. Omega, crushed by the quartz emergency, was mounting a comeback as a mechanical fake watch prices (In the second 50% of the following decade, it would represent 33% of the gathering’s fake watch prices deals.) indeed, in 1998, SMH was observing Omega’s 150th commemoration, featured by the distribution of a 487-page hardback history of the brand called “Omega Saga.” To me, the circumstance of the name change appeared odd.

A straightforward Swatch phone.

I likewise understood how Swatch affected Hayek actually. Swatch was a profoundly beneficial, progressive item, indeed, however to him it was substantially more. It addressed a modern way of thinking, a model for how first-world economies could compete with low-wage producers without forfeiting their mechanical bases.

“Swatch is a persuading contention for keeping a modern base in the exceptionally evolved countries of Europe and North America, and for protecting our craftsmanship customs,” Hayek wrote in 1992. “In the event that we permit our manufacturing plants to move away, and to take our skill with them, we risk losing our autonomy through and through. Swatch has demonstrated consistently that with a touch of inventive innovativeness, and the will to succeed, it is without a doubt conceivable to create a preferred item here at home over should be possible elsewhere on the planet, and at a superior price.”

Hayek marking a Smart smaller than usual vehicle, created by SMH and Daimler-Benz.

Hayek’s prosperity competing against Far Eastern producers with the 100%-Swiss-made Swatch brought him notoriety and approval among the business and political elites. In October 1993, at Harvard’s Graduate School of Business Administration, he gave a talk named “The Rise of Swatch and the Revitalization of Western Competitiveness.” (I was there. He talked in front of an audience to a group of people of financial specialists for an hour without notes and got a thundering overwhelming applause toward the end.) He gave a comparable discourse to the European Commission in Brussels at the greeting of then Secretary-General Jacques Delors. 

In the 1990s, Hayek endeavored the repeat the model in different fields. He dispatched Swatch telephones and a company called Swatch Telecom. He went into a joint endeavor with Germany’s Daimler-Benz to build up a metropolitan small vehicle that he named the Swatchmobile. The Micro Compact Car company, settled in Bienne, dealt with the model of what is presently the Smart car.

Smart vehicles: the name is an abbreviation for “Swatch Mercedes art.”

He likewise savored assuming the part of Mr. Swatch at occasions around the planet. Maybe the most acclaimed scene was the point at which the dark hairy, pear-formed, 68-year-old SMH executive brought the Olympic light through Atlanta on its way to the Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Summer Games, where interestingly Swatch – not Omega or Longines – was the authority clock. Hayek’s own relationship with the Swatch brand ran profound. After the Games, he disclosed to me the amount he delighted in bantering with individuals along the light course who were applauding “Mr. Swatch.”

“Mr. Swatch” bringing the Olympic light through Atlanta in 1996.

I saw the entirety of that. In any case, I likewise realized that, for a great many people, Swatch was not a way of thinking of life or a triumphant monetary model for the West. It was a fun, astounding, cheap quartz style fake watch prices That’s everything. Thusly, the name didn’t have a place in lights on the gathering’s central command working in Bienne. So said I, anyway. 

April Fool's Day

The section showed up, maybe suitably, in the April 1, 1998, issue of National Jeweler. The title was “SMH To Become ‘The Swatch Group,’ Or Something Like That.” You get the essence of it in the accompanying portion, which is the way the segment ended.

I can comprehend Chairman Nick’s and the board’s disappointment with the SMH assignment. The initials represent Société Suisse de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie. All alone, the initials pass on nothing, in contrast to, say, Disney or Nike or Gap. Also, the short and punchy Swatch is an extraordinary name for a watch.

The opening of the writer’s unique article, which showed up in the April 1, 1998, issue of National Jeweler.

However, since the time the Swatch marvel of the mid-1980s, SMH has been enticed to stick it on everything. The splendid Max Imgrüth, the principal head of Swatch USA, was the main Swatch brand extender, putting it on T-shirts, umbrellas, pens, fanny packs, you name it.

But the top Swatch brand extender is Hayek himself. He gave us Swatch phones, pagers and Swatch Timing, which supplanted Swiss Timing, which used to time athletic occasions under the Omega or Longines mark. He’ll before long have the brand on a vehicle. Utilizing it to distinguish the whole gathering, be that as it may, is going excessively far. I realize Swatch is SMH’s treasure trove. I realize it made fake watch prices history. I know the amount Mr. Swatch (a.k.a. Scratch Hayek) loves it.

‘Hayek gave us Swatch phones, pagers and Swatch Timing, supplanting Swiss Timing,’ I composed. ‘He’ll before long have the brand on a vehicle. Utilizing it to distinguish the entire gathering, notwithstanding, is going too far.’ 

Nevertheless, the view here is that Switzerland’s top fake watch prices gathering, parent to Omega, Longines, and Blancpain, can show improvement over embrace the name of a thing everlastingly well known as a $45 plastic, but progressive, watch.

Call me old-fashioned. 

The champ of the Swatch-amacallit challenge (Swatch Unlimited? MicroSwatch Inc? Swatch R Us?) will be uncovered at the investors meeting on June 24.

Let the mission start! SMH investors, join together! Vote No on June 24! 

Switzerland Calling

Hayek, looking unamused.

‘You condemn our thought,’ Hayek shouted, ‘yet you don’t offer any proposals of your own. OK, since my thought is nothing but bad, advise me: what should I name my company?’

On Monday morning, April 13, 1998, the day after Easter, I was working in my office and the telephone rang. I replied and a female voice with a German-Swiss inflection said, “Mr. Thompson, kindly hold for Mr. Hayek.” 


It was not incredible for him to call me. It was uncommon, yet it occurred. It very well may be tied in with something I composed. It very well may be something different. This time, I realized it was about what I wrote.

After a couple of moments, he was one the line: “Hi, Joe Thompson!”

“Good evening, Mr. Director. Are you dealing with Easter Monday?” In Switzerland, Easter Monday is a holiday.

“No,” he said, merrily. “I’m at my home in Cap d’Antibes. It is an excellent day, I am in my pool [suddenly the tone got hostile] and I am thinking about what to name my company!”   

“So you saw the column.”


The call had come all of a sudden, and my reaction was basically that of the carefree Ralph Kramden, during the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners, at whatever point he wound up in his very own fix making: “Homina, homina, homina, homina, homina… ” 

Hayek had a point. I had not given a huge load of thought, or even an ounce, to another name. I just idea the Swatch choice was a mistake. 

Hayek Sr. in his Swatch Group office, wearing a Swatch fake watch prices chatting on a Swatch phone, with a model of the Swatchmobile on the windowsill, and another Swatch telephone on the work area. (He is additionally wearing an Omega Seamaster Titanium.)

With my mind giving only “hominas” in light of the unforeseen inquiry, the fake watch prices divine beings mediated. All of a sudden, I heard myself say, “All things considered, on the off chance that it was me, I’d consider it the Hayek Group.”

Silence. (Where’d he go?) Then, delicately, pleasantly, he said, “That is a smart thought.” But the second passed instantly and the annoyance returned. “Yet, you realize I can’t do that! The Hayek Pool just controls 36% of the company offers, and I can’t put my name on the gathering.” (The Hayek Pool alludes to a gathering of financial backers, driven by Hayek, who held a controlling portion of casting a ballot rights in the gathering, an aggregate of 35.5% in 1998. Hayek himself held 28.5%, which is the way he had the chance to be a billionaire.) 

“Well, what might be said about the Omega Group? Omega is also known as Swatch is.” 


“Well, for what reason do you need to transform everything? What’s going on with SMH?”


With that, I had depleted my stock of pointless recommendations. He had come to his meaningful conclusion. It was a short battle: a TKO in the first round. 

As the champ moved back to his corner, and I was slithering out of the ring, he said something stunning. Twenty years on, I actually can barely handle it. In a tone that was practically well disposed, he said, “However you continue to hit us. That is the thing that we need.”

With that, he hung up and I murmured a little petition of appreciation to the fake watch prices divine beings for the Hayek Group answer. It unquestionably tempered the fierceness a piece. Furthermore, saved me another spell in the Tower. 

I believed that was its finish. I was wrong.

The Campaign Trail

Nine days after the fact, the Basel Fair opened. Back then, SMH held a worldwide directors’ gathering in Switzerland only before the reasonable. At the reasonable, a few SMH chiefs disclosed to me that Hayek had referenced my resistance to the name change in his discourse to the gathering. A few group didn’t comprehend the choice to change the company name, Hayek advised them. They ought to anticipate inquiries concerning it and be set up to respond to them. Somebody who didn’t get it, he advised them, was me. The reference wasn’t antagonistic, they said. Simply an admonition to them to expect questions and offer great responses. (In this way, presently I am a banner kid for a “No” vote in June, I thought: That’s strange.)

It got more abnormal. In May, I had another call from SMH. This time it was Yann Gamard, CEO of SMH Group U.S. at the Weehawken, NJ, central command. I knew Yann well, however he never called me. 

“Hey, Yann, what’s up?”

“I am simply calling to perceive how the mission is going.”

I had no clue about the thing the man was discussing. I had proceeded onward to different stories, different sections. Mission? Did he think I was running for sheriff of Overland Park, KS, where I then lived? 

“What crusade, Yann? What do you mean?”

Hayek with Yann Gamard (right), CEO of SMH’s U.S. subsidiary.

“The crusade against the corporate name change. I just got off the telephone with Mr. Hayek and he needed me to check with you about it.”

I was puzzled. Valid, the segment finished with the line “Let the mission start!” But I never envisioned anybody would take it in a real sense. Or then again think I was leading it. I disclosed to Gamard that there was no mission, positively not by me, very likely not by anyone. I had no offers in SMH, no votes, and no clout. 

Furthermore, the name change was a fait accompli. What Hayek needs at SMH, Hayek gets. It was Hayek himself who kidded that the initials SMH represented Sa Majesté Hayek.

“It was only a segment, Yann,” I said. “Simply a little assessment section, there’s nothing more to it. There is no mission against the new name.”

He said he would let Mr. Hayek know.

On June 24, SMH formally turned into the Swatch Group. Almost certainly the Chairman let out a tremendous murmur of relief. 

With that, the scene ended. 

Sort of. There is a postscript. Two, actually.

Just 15 months after the fact, the Swatch Group gained Groupe Horloger Breguet from Investcorp, a Bahrain-based speculation company. That drove, I am told, to a twinge of disappointment on the Chairman’s part about the name change. 

'Mr. Breguet'

The day of the declaration of the Breguet procurement, Sept. 14, 1999, Jean-Claude Biver was in Munich for a gathering. At the point when Biver heard the news, he promptly called Hayek, and said, “I need it!”

Jean-Claude Biver (in a 1997 photograph) disclosed to Hayek that he needed to run the recently procured Breguet brand. “No,” Hayek advised him. “This one is for me.”

“No,” Hayek advised him. “This one is for me.” (Hayek disclosed to me the story; Biver affirmed it later.)

“I had a dream of how I could manage it under my own administration,” Hayek advised me in 2004. “I chose to change for all intents and purposes the entire Investcorp group and assume control over the CEO position.” His mentality was, he said, “It’s my business now. I’m demonstrating how you can manage such a brand.” 

In truth, as indicated by Swatch Group gossip, what Hayek truly needed was not Breguet, but rather Nouvelle Lemania, the Vallée de Joux development maker, which was essential for the Breguet Group and made the developments for the Omega moon fake watch prices Hayek’s objective was to secure that significant cause of provisions for Omega. At the point when I got some information about it, he delayed somewhat and said “I needed both Lemania and Breguet.”

When the Swatch Group procured Breguet in September 1999, Jean-Claude Biver called Hayek right away. ‘I need it,’ Biver said. ‘No,’ Hayek advised him. ‘This one is for me.’

But he conceded he didn’t completely comprehend Breguet’s potential toward the start. “After I bought it, I understood abruptly I have pearls here,” he advised me. “I have the ideal article you can cherish. Allow me to disclose to you what Breguet is. Breguet for me is the best marriage of innovation and art.”

Hayek changed Nouvelle Lemania in the Vallée de Joux into Manufacture Breguet. 

Hayek, the vigorous industrialist, had gotten the Breguet bug. Breguet, he understood, could be the gathering’s high-mechanical, extravagance fake watch prices hotshot that Blancpain had never fully figured out how to become. 

Investcorp had destroyed Breguet. They promoted it as a game fake watch prices 80% of its publicizing was for the Type XX chronograph, a pilots’ fake watch prices presented during the 1950s. What’s more, they moved a ton of product through dark market channels.

Hayek continued to sink a fortune into resuscitating the brand and highlighting the horological virtuoso who established it. He advanced Abraham-Louis Breguet as the innovator of the tourbillon and started a tourbillon rage. He transformed Nouvelle Lemania into Manufacture Breguet and dispatched a progression of developments and moves up to the production line. He made a Breguet Museum in Paris and turned into a forceful buyer of unique Breguet models at sell off. He had Manufacture Breguet produce a careful imitation of the incredible “Marie Antoinette” fabulous complication pocket fake watch prices of 1827 (No. 160) that had been taken from a Jerusalem gallery in 1983 was all the while missing. (It was later recovered.)

Hayek, as CEO of Montres Breguet, with the Breguet No. 1160, an accurate imitation of the “Marie Antoinette” fake watch prices of 1827 that was taken in 1983.

The change was complete by 2002. In May of that year, Hayek held a function dinner at Versailles Palace to praise the 200th commemoration of the creation of the tourbillon by Abraham-Louis Breguet. He gave a passionate discourse respecting “Breguet, the craftsman who turned into an entrepreneur.”

“An business visionary for me has consistently been and is a craftsman, a maker, a trend-setter, who rouses all individuals around him and makes new riches and new working environments,” he said in his discourse at the occasion. “A-L Breguet realized how to make magnificence, delight, joy. Be that as it may, he additionally made new openings and new abundance for countless individuals and straightforwardly assisted with progressing society.”

In Breguet, Hayek the business visionary saw himself. Mr. Swatch was currently Mr. Breguet.

In 2003, Hayek Senior ventured down as CEO of the Swatch Group, giving control to Nick, Jr. In any case, he never surrendered the CEO position at Breguet.


A few years after the fact, I ate in Lausanne with a top Breguet leader, whom I had known for a very long time. He had worked at other notable Swiss brands and been brand chief in the U.S. for one of them. Hayek had enlisted him to help restore Breguet. At supper, unavoidably, we discussed Hayek, Sr. At a certain point, the 1998 name change came up. 

“I think he laments that now,” my companion said. 

The incongruity was rich and I was unable to stand up to. “You know, in the event that he had quite recently tuned in to that numbskull fake watch prices correspondent in the States, he wouldn’t have any second thoughts now,” I said. “Be that as it may, noooooooo.” He laughed.

Swatch Group central command in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland.

This is noise, obviously. I don’t know for sure that Hayek came to lament the name change. Yet, the theory isn’t inactive: it comes from a very much positioned source. It is surely conceivable that, subsequent to situating Breguet at the gathering’s zenith, he encountered similar dissatisfaction as SMH CEOs whose brands appeared to be optional to mass-market Swatch after 1998. 

The second postscript is this: In 2014, Marc Hayek, Hayek’s grandson, the CEO of Blancpain (he was additionally CEO of Breguet, succeeding his granddad) held a Blancpain press occasion at the Hayek family compound in Cap d’Antibes, France. There he revealed the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment Bathyscape Flyback Chronograph fake watch prices I was among the swarm of press invitees. There I happened upon the pool where Hayek, Sr. made the Easter Monday call. I remained at poolside and, with a grin, remembered the day I ruined Mr. Swatch’s swim. 

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