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Swatch will reportedly incorporate "smart" features into its Swatch Touch watch collection
Swatch will reportedly incorporate "smart" features into its Swatch Touch watch collection

Swatch ‘yes’ and Apple ‘maybe’ on smartwatches

Swatch Group has announced that “smart” features will be included in a line of watches to be released next year amid rumours that Apple’s unconfirmed iWatch could launch as early as today.

In an interview with Reuters, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek revealed that the new Swatch Touch range would incorporate fitness-related features such as a calorie tracker and pedometer, as well as additional functionality that would use Bluetooth technology.

He also reportedly indicated that the watch collection would be the only battery-powered device to have a constantly active touch screen, due to its low power consumption.

Nick Hayek, Swatch CEO
Nick Hayek, Swatch CEO

However, Hayek made it clear that the company would continue to focus on the timepieces themselves rather than the technology.

“Our first message for customers is the watch. If they like it, they might also be interested in the extra functions,” he said. “It is a problem if you only define a product by its technology. Technology alone doesn’t sell, not in watches.”

The news harks back to an interview with Reuters earlier this year, in which Hayek said he did not see smartwatches as a threat to the traditional watch market but rather, as an opportunity for traditional watchmakers.

At that time, he also pointed out that Swatch had the ability to make its own smartwatch, but added that the company had no plans to be major force in the sector.

“We have all the know-how but we do not want to build up stock of technology bombs people won’t want to buy,” Hayek added.

More reading: Google watch a game changer?

During his most recent interview, the Swiss watch giant’s CEO also highlighted that Swatch would not necessarily be relying on external technology companies to develop the watch, given that a number of its businesses already specialised in electronics systems.

“All the big technology firms want to work with us and I don’t rule out that we are or could be collaborating in some areas. But we can also do many things on our own,” he stated.

Impending iWatch release?
In other smartwatch-related news, Apple has scheduled a “special event” today in the US at 10:00am (or 3:00am on Wednesday 10 September, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Marc Newson
Marc Newson

Although many industry experts have said the event was likely organised as a way to introduce a new iPhone model, many have speculated it could also be used as a launch pad for the long-awaited release of a wrist device, dubbed the iWatch.

While the company still hasn’t confirmed it is developing its own version of a smartwatch, its recent appointment of designer Marc Newson – exclusively reported by Vanity Fair – has added further fodder to the rumours.

Australian-born Newson is particularly well known for his furniture designs but has also previously created timepieces and was the founder of watch brand Ikepod.

As Jeweller reported in July last year, Apple’s appointment of former Yves Saint Laurent CEO, Paul Deneve, led to similar rumour-mongering.

The technology giant was unsurprisingly vague about Deneve’s role, however, some commentators suggested that his employment related to a move towards the smartwatch market.

Perhaps more light on the situation will be shed during today’s presentation.

Apple will be streaming live video of its cryptic event here.

More reading
Swatch confident against smartwatch wave
Apple iWatch to begin production next month
New appointment spurs Apple iWatch rumours
Apple expands trademark for watches, jewellery

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