Critical Thinking – The Swatch Group and Cultural Uniqueness
Please read Case 4: “The Swatch Group and Cultural Uniqueness” available in your e-book
(International business: Competing in the global marketplace (13th ed.), at page no.630, and
answer the following questions:
think the family’s influence impacts the corporate culture in the company? What about
the company’s international culture being impacted by the Hayek family? Explain.
customers in the global marketplace. Some even talk about the “Swatch Revolution” that
began when Nicolas Hayek founded the company. Why do you think Swatch has such a
strong cultural following? Give logic in support of your answer.
through its Swatch watch. Is a watch a way to show who a person is culturally? Does a
watch get embedded into a person’s culture? Can a watch create a cultural image?
The Swatch Group (swatchgroup.com) with its headquar-
ters in Biel, Switzerland (Europe), is a manufacturer of
watches and jewelry. The company was founded in 1983 by
Lebanese-born Nicolas Hayek from the merging of Allge-
meine Gesellschaft der Schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie
and Société Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogère. It is now the
world’s biggest watchmaker.
Nicolas’s daughter, Nayla Hayek, has been chair of the
board of directors of the Swatch Group since her father’s
death in 2010, and she is also CEO of the luxury jeweler
Harry Winston Inc., which was acquired by the Swatch
Group in 2013. Georges Nicolas “Nick” Hayek Jr. has been
the CEO and president of the Swatch Group since 2003.
Today, the Hayek family controls nearly 40 percent of the
Swatch and its 37 global subsidiaries employ about
37,000 people, and the company’s revenue is about 9 billion
Swiss francs (CHF), or about $9 billion in U.S. dollars. The
company’s headquarters in Biel sits on the language
border between French- and German-speaking parts of
Switzerland and is, by design, bilingual and culturally di-
verse. In fact, everything that Swatch engages in is based
on diversity and culture. This cultural diversity is embed-
ded in its overall brand and global strategizing.
For example, many of the Swatch brands have become
cultural icons among a strong core following of customers
in the global marketplace. Some even talk about the
“Swatch Revolution” that began when Nicolas Hayek
founded the company. It was the combination of legendary
Swiss watch making (with the Swiss being famous for
watch brands like Patek Philippe, Rolex, Jaeger-LeCoultre,
e.g.) and the unexpected appearance of an affordable
plastic watch that turned the watch world upside down.