Swiss Watchmakers Reject Possible “iWatch Project” Partnership

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Apple has been courting top Swiss watchmakers, trying to lure them into the smartwatch race, but the traditional watch brands say they have no time to partner up with the tech guys, the Financial Times reports.

The newspaper cites Swatch executive Nick Hayek, who says they had discussions “with practically all players in smart wearables up until today”, but they have no reason to partner up with tech companies. Swatch is the world’s biggest watchmaker, owning luxury watch brands Harry Winston, Breguet, and Blancpain.

“We have been in discussions – not ever initiated by us – with practically all players in smart wearables up until today,” Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek told the Financial Times. “However, we see no reason why we should enter into any partnership agreement.” He added that his priority was to protect Swatch’s intellectual property advantages over tech rivals, including ergonomic design, longevity and battery life.

“Never forget, to make a smartwatch work you need two hands or voice recognition, which again needs a lot of power which is difficult in a very limited space,” he said.

Earlier this month, Jean-Claude Biver said that Apple had tried to lure away talent from his Hublot brand and several Swiss parts manufacturers.

“Apple has contacted some of my employees – I saw the emails personally,” Mr Biver told a Swiss publication, claiming that all those who had been contacted refused the iPhone maker’s advances.

This, however, is the manufacturer’s point of view only. Industry analysts believe exactly the opposite: some think that Swiss watchmakers could gain more if they collaborated with tech companies.

“The big threat for luxury is that if Apple and other rivals manage to go it alone, then the watchmakers will have lost vital ground in what could be a huge market opportunity,” said Luca Solca of Exane BNP Paribas.

Rumours of an Apple iWatch have been consistently present for quite some time now, and while the information circulating in the blogosphere is somewhat confusing, Apple’s recent hires suggest that the wearable computing device will pack some essential sensors for health tracking.

In addition, 9to5Mac has revealed some information about the forthcoming app dubbed as Healthbook, which could be Apple’s entry ticket to the $3 trillion healthcare market.