Look who’s calling the Apple Watch a ‘toy’

August 27, 2015, 3:50 PM UTC
Hayek Jr Swatch Group Chief Executive smokes a cigar during the Swiss watch maker annual news conference in Plan-Les-Ouates
Nick Hayek Jr Swatch Group Chief Executive smokes a cigar during the Swiss watch maker annual news conference in Plan-Les-Ouates near Geneva March 20, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR3HVCZ
Photograph by Denis Balibouse — Reuters

The Apple Watch is not the only reason Swiss watch exports slid 9.3% in July, the industry’s steepest monthly decline in five years.

A slowdown in Hong Kong’s tourist industry had something to do with it, according to Bloomberg, as well as a MERS outbreak in South Korea.

But Apple was in the crosshairs last week when the CEO of the world’s largest watchmaker sat down with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger to hype Swatch’s new line of smartwatches, the Touch Zero One.

A few of Nick Halek’s choicest soundbites:

  • “The Apple Watch is an interesting toy, but not a revolution.”
  • “These devices… eat so much power that they last no longer than 24 hours without needing to be plugged in.”
  • “As a watch producer, I cannot accept the responsibility of whether my device warns a customer in time before a heart attack.”
  • “The user immediately loses control of their data. I personally don’t want my blood pressure and blood sugar values stored in the cloud, or on servers in Silicon Valley.”


“In terms of automation, miniaturization, standardization and reduction in power consumption, innovative materials, transmission technologies and navigation,” he concludes, “we are a leader in the Jura Arc worldwide.”

I had to look up Jura Arc. It’s the 120-mile-long valley that stretches from Geneva to Basel where fine watchmaking began and where most of the Swiss watchmakers are still headquartered.

I also had to look up the Touch Zero One, which seems to have landed in the U.S. without much of a splash. “Toy” is an interesting pejorative, given Swatch’s marketing campaign. Here’s their webpage:

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 9.24.36 AM

The NFC-equipped Touch Zero Two, which Hayek promised in March for May delivery, has been pushed back to later this year. “The technology works,” he told Tages-Anzeige. “We will fix just last details with our partners from the credit card industry.”

For Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, Hayek’s performance brought to mind Palm CEO Ed Colligan’s 2006 dismissal of the soon-to-be introduced Apple iPhone:

“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone,” he said. “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

Hayek is not the first Swiss watchmaker to diss the Apple Watch. Here’s Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek Phillipe U.S.A., telling Fortune’s Leigh Gallagher why his company is sticking with mechanical watches:


Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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