Apple reportedly working with Swatch, other watchmakers to roll out multiple 'iWatch' devices

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited July 2014
As rumors of Apple's anticipated entry into the smartwatch sector mount, a report on Wednesday claims Cupertino has been collaborating with Swatch and other major traditional watchmakers to release a range of branded products that appeal to a wider swath of buyers.


Swatch Group subsidiary Harry Winston's Opus XIII. | Source: Harry Winston


According to an anonymous source, Apple has been trying to curry support from within the watch industry on possible partnership deals to release a "family" of smartwatch products that suit a variety of styles "from geek to chic," reports VentureBeat.

The publication says Apple may be working with multiple watch companies -- the source said "he would be shocked" if Timex was not a partner -- though Swatch is thought to be a lock. Details of the partnerships are scarce, though the source claims watchmakers may be working with Apple on branded devices that support expected "iWatch" functions like health and fitness tracking.

Swatch, along with Suunto and Fossil, previously produced watches using Microsoft's now defunct Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) platform, what can be considered a first-foray into the smartwatch world.

For Apple, a partnership with an established watchmaker would bring technical and design know-how from players in a well-established industry. Swatch Group, for example, has 19 labels under its umbrella, including Breguet, Omega and Harry Winston, among others.

One of the big stumbling blocks for current smartwatches is style. Tech companies not versed in watch design, like Samsung, LG and Motorola, are trying their hand at what amounts to jewelry; or a fashion statement for "normal" consumers. They have, for the most part, failed.

Breaking into and attempting to shake up a centuries-old industry without knowing what works and what doesn't is a fool's errand. To that end, Apple has reportedly been reaching out to Swiss watchmakers and poaching horology experts, including a former TAG Heuer sales director.

If true, Wednesday's news is an abrupt about-face for Swatch's CEO Nick Hayek, Jr., who last year said an Apple smartwatch would not be "the next revolution" in tech. Replacing an iPhone with an "interactive terminal on your wrist" is a difficult proposition since space for an adequate display is limited, Hayek said.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 86
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,837member
    This would make a lot of sense.
  • Reply 2 of 86
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,246member
    Sounds like Hayek knows as much about wearable tech as Apple knows about watches.
  • Reply 3 of 86
    So the hybrid is still a goer! Just as I thought. No one wants a naff digital watch on their wrist.
  • Reply 4 of 86
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    Swatch? That is sooooo 1986. What's next, they'll create a Pro version, designed by Keith Haring? Hey, if Michael Jackson can still release a new album...
  • Reply 5 of 86
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,081member

    Rolex unless something happened overnight is privately held (it's a Swiss thing).  They are not a Swatch Subsidiary/brand

    (not that I'd care, but my watch collection consists of 3 Rolexes my dad gave me...  He being an US Air Force guy, Rolex was officer bling in the 50's ;-)

     

     

    From Wikipedia.... these are the Swatch Family of watches

    Prestige and Luxury Range

    High Range

    Middle Range

    Basic Range

    Private label

  • Reply 6 of 86
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,657member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    This would make a lot of sense.

    I agree - widespread release of a variety of styles and price levels.   Maybe even co-branded?  "The Swatch iTime with Apple Technology!"

  • Reply 7 of 86
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    But please, do not make it a skeuomorph. That would be fun for five minutes and then look very old. I don't think Apple would but I'm just sayin'.
  • Reply 8 of 86
    muadibemuadibe Posts: 132member
    "Replacing an iPhone with an "interactive terminal on your wrist".

    That sounds like a very defensive answer. I don't think anyone is expecting the watch to replace our phones.
  • Reply 9 of 86

    Huh.  I had been expecting a finished product, but this almost makes me wonder if the recent patent about a separate in-band sensor component points to more of a partnership type announcement where the product is actually something more like CarPlay.  Traditional watch makers simply need to include the sensor component in the band and have a watch face that's at least so big and contains a layer that's normally transparent (so you can see whatever mechanical watch face the traditional watch maker designed) but becomes opaque when there's iWatch UI to display, such as when a notification comes in.

     

    I think I'd prefer a finished product designed by Apple after they sought and considered input from traditional watch makers though.  Rumors like this just point out that we really don't have a clear idea of what the finished product will look like I suppose.

     

    The thought had also crossed my mind that it'll be a return to the square iPod Nano but as an incremental improvement and Apple's simply tapping watchmakers for the band (which would still fit with the in-band sensor module idea - a "made for iWatch" certification).  Guess we'll see in the fall.

  • Reply 10 of 86
    Sounds like Hayek knows as much about wearable tech as Apple knows about watches.

    Sounds like... then Apple showed him what they had and he changed his tune.
  • Reply 11 of 86
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    Swatch? That is sooooo 1986. What's next, they'll create a Pro version, designed by Keith Haring? Hey, if Michael Jackson can still release a new album...

    the Swatch line, yes.  Swatch Group...  Omega, Harry Winston, Longines, Rado, Tissot...  

  • Reply 12 of 86
    I think I'd prefer a finished product designed by Apple after they sought and considered input from traditional watch makers though.  Rumors like this just point out that we really don't have a clear idea of what the finished product will look like I suppose.

    Keep in mind that the watch guys have all the best outlets for the goods. You wanna sell watches, better go where the rich people buy watches. I'm sure the sports versions have their own locations, etc. but I don't think Radio Shack will hanging these on hooks for their regular customers.
  • Reply 13 of 86
    I understand that when Apple releases their next iPhones, Samsung will have scruffy-looking guys in shabby trench coats hanging around the lines trying to sell Galaxy Gear to the faithful.
  • Reply 14 of 86
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,265member
    If Apple wants to not look naff these companies know what to do.

    But how would a hybrid model work?
  • Reply 15 of 86
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Maybe Apple should drop the whole skuomorphism (spelled right?) thing and avoid naming it something associated with devices of the medieval age (iWatch/iTime/iClock/). They could name it something completely refreshing like the iPod did. They could have easily named the iPod something old fashioned like the iBoombox, iRecord, iMusicPlayer or iWalkman :p
    Good thing they didn't.

    I can't think of much marketable names at this moment. I just feel its silly to name it a "watch" or "time" when it will clearly do a lot more than that.
    here's a few ideas: iWrist, iPal, iPort, iLette. I'm sure you guys and Apple can think of way better names.

    I would like to see a customizable home screen that displays the hour on the top of the screen and give the main space up for news, weather, photos or anything you desire(yes, even just the time).
  • Reply 16 of 86
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,603member
    That explains why Tag Heuer did not mind Apple hiring Patrick Pruniaux.
    They are most likely part of the deal. This will be awesome.
  • Reply 17 of 86
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,046member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    Swatch? That is sooooo 1986. What's next, they'll create a Pro version, designed by Keith Haring? Hey, if Michael Jackson can still release a new album...

    You should go back and take a look. I wear my $150 Swatches far more often than I do my Baume & Mercier.... seriously.

  • Reply 18 of 86
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post



    Sounds like Hayek knows as much about wearable tech as Apple knows about watches.



    I'll bet he changes his tune if his company is involved.

  • Reply 19 of 86
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by carrboro View Post

     

    the Swatch line, yes.  Swatch Group...  Omega, Harry Winston, Longines, Rado, Tissot...  




    Would that mean the iWatch would have no numbers or letters on the display?

  • Reply 20 of 86
    island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member

    If Apple brings out a watch and it's successful then I'd say the company will have smooth sailing for another 3 to 4 years.

     

    This, imo,  would prove once and for all that Cook is able to do a Steve.

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