Swatch still wants in on the smartwatch game. According to Chief Executive Nick Hayek, the watch will be Internet-enabled and feature remote-payment functions, although the specifics are still in question. Hayek, speaking recently at a shareholder meeting, said that its upcoming smartwatch will launch in Switzerland and “one big country.”
It’s not clear which large market Swatch is targeting. As the WSJ reports, Swatch already has a payments deal with China UnionPay, and China is Swatch’s largest market.
According to past interviews with Hayek, the watch will not have to be charged and will sport NFC. But, at least in February when the company announced its plans, the smartwatch will not work with iOS devices; it’s designed for Windows Phones and Android devices.
Swatch Group is the world’s largest watchmaking group, producing timepieces for Swatch, Tissot, Longines and Omega watches. The Apple Watch and smartwatches in general are a threat to its business. Last year the company reportedly did not have any interest in modern smartwatches, but changed its tune earlier this year.
Swatch has attempted many interesting – if under-appreciated – smartwatches, including LCD watches featuring something called Internet Time, a wonky system for unifying the time zones worldwide, and the aforementioned SPOT watches. SPOT was an FM-based transmission system that pushed data to a series of large LCD watches, offering up short messages, sports scores, and weather to the few customers who joined the service early on.
Sitting on the sidelines potentially hurt Swatch’s chances to have a meaningful impact in the smartwatch market. At this point Swatch is going up against established players, many of which are already on to second or third generation devices.