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Swatch Strikes Out Alone with Smartwatch Plans

Tim Maytom

swatchOne of the world's biggest watchmakers, Swatch Group has elected to develop its own smartwatch rather than partner with a technology company, with its Swatch Touch planned for release next summer.

Swatch has not released many details of its plans in the wearable device market, but has announced that the new smartwatch will include fitness features such as a pedometer and calorie-burn calculator, as well as integrated Bluetooth.

"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," said Nick Hayek, chief executive at Swatch. "But we can also do many things on our own. Our first message for customers is the watch. If they like it, they might also be interested in the extra functions.

"It is a problem if you only define a product by its technology. Technology alone doesn't sell, not in watches."

Among the established brands in the Swatch Group are its colourful Swatch watches, sports brands Tissot and Longines, and high-end designers Omega and Breguet. So far, technology firms have led the charge into wearables, so a firm with a strong history in watches and a recognised, respected brand could well shake up the market.

Swatch already has strong links to the tech business, producing microchips, displays and batteries, primarily for third parties. Its expertise in low-power and low-voltage microchips means that the Swatch Touch will be the only battery-powered device with an always-active touch screen, thanks to its low power consumption.