Swatch sales wind up ahead of forecasts

The world's biggest watch group Swatch reported on Thursday that sales in 2012 rose by 14 percent from the 2011 level, beating the most optimistic expectations in the industry.

Swatch sales wind up ahead of forecasts
Photo: Khalid Mahmood

The watchmaker said in a statement before its full results next month that it had achieved 8.1 billion Swiss francs ($8.8 billion) in sales in 2012 as Swiss watch exports soared.

Swatch, most known for its brightly coloured plastic-cased watches, thus beat its own sales expectations for the year as well as those of analysts polled by the AWP financial agency, who had expected a 7.9-billion Swiss franc sales figure.

"The group will once more outperform Swiss watch exports," Vontobel analyst René Weber said in an analysis note.

That is no small feat, as Swiss watch exports during the first 11 months of 2012 rose 4.5 percent year-on-year to reach a record 19.63 billion Swiss francs, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said last month.

Swatch, based in the northwestern town of Biel, said its watch and jewellery division, which comprises most of its activities, had seen sales swell 15.6 percent to 7.2 billion Swiss francs in 2012.

Swatch Group, which is also Switzerland's biggest producer of timepiece components, meanwhile posted a 10.1-percent jump in sales in its gauge and component production unit to 2.2 billion Swiss francs.

The company management was also upbeat about the remainder of its 2012 results, and said it expected "healthy growth" in 2013, without going into details.

The key numbers are scheduled to be published no later than February 21, according to Swatch, which often publishes its results in advance of its scheduled posting date.

In an interview published by Swiss daily Le Temps last month, Swatch chief Nick Hayek said he expected the entire Swiss watchmaking industry to post growth of between five and seven percent for 2012.

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Swiss watchmaker Swatch wins latest trademark battle with Apple

A top Swiss court on Thursday handed the watchmaker Swatch victory in a trademark dispute with US technology giant Apple – the latest in a series of legal disputes between the two firms.

Swiss watchmaker Swatch wins latest trademark battle with Apple
Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek with the Zero One wristwatch in 2014. File photo: AFP

In the current case, Apple had alleged the Swiss company’s ‘Tick different’ slogan was too similar to the US company’s ‘Think different’ slogan of the 1990s.

Apple originally filed an objection with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property, but that organisation turned down the complaint.

Read also: How luxury watchmakers are gearing up for Brexit

The US company then took the case to the St-Gallen based Federal Administrative Court.

To have a chance of winning its case against Swatch, Apple had to prove that the famous slogan – the related TV commercial won an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial in 1998 – had more than 50 percent recognition in Switzerland.

However, the Federal Administrative Court ruled Apple had not provided sufficient evidence that this was the case and found in Swatch’s favour.

The evidence for awareness of the slogan in Switzerland consisted of just several articles on Apple in Swiss broadsheet NZZ.

This dispute was just the latest in a series of legal confrontations between the two companies.

In 2007, Swatch, which is headed up by charismatic businessman Nick Hayek, trademarked the term ‘iSwatch’ before Apple was able to register the term ‘iWatch. 

The Swiss watchmaker also trademarked the expression ‘One more thing’, which was made famous by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Apple has had other legal problems in Switzerland. In 2012, it reportedly paid 20 million Swiss francs (€17.8 million) to Swiss Federal Railways to avoid going to court over its use of the design of the Swiss railway clock in its i06 operating system.