The man responsible for saving the Swiss watch industry nearly 30 years ago, and for creating the iconic brand Swatch, Nicolas Hayek, passed away earlier this week due to heart failure, at the age of 82. Notice of his passing was delivered via the Swatch Group, the company Hayek bought and reorganized in the early 1980s, which now owns a variety of brands like Omega, Tissot, and the watch-making arm of Tiffany & Co. The notice was very brief, offering few details, but the NY Times has filed this obituary, providing background on Hayek’s career, including the boom that began in 1983 as the low-cost, collectable Swatch was introduced. Here’s a bit from the official statement:
Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek’s greatest merit was his enormous contribution to the saving of the Swiss watch industry and the foundation and the commercial development of the Swatch Group. Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek’s extraordinary vision enabled him to realize and ensure the sustainability of a strong watchmaking enterprise with high Swiss added value. He is rightly recognized as a leading entrepreneur in this country.
With the right personnel decisions, Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek also ensured that his ideas and beliefs will live on and that continuity is guaranteed in regard of shareholders, Board of Directors and the Group Management Board.