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Intel and Google, the new ETA and Nivarox

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March 2015

Intel and Google, the new ETA and Nivarox

For a long time, two subsidiaries of the Swatch Group, ETA and Nivarox, have enjoyed an unparalleled monopoly in the watchmaking industry. The former – which produces movements, or so-called “tractors”, that equip a wide range of watches – has announced a drastic reduction of deliveries. The latter – which produces oscillating and escapement parts – still controls 90% of the market.

Well, these vital companies for the whole industry might eventually pass on their crown to two new “rulers” of the game: Google for the software, and Intel for the chips. A consideration that came to our mind after two announcements that took place on Thursday at Baselworld: in the morning, the partnership of Fossil Group with Google and Intel; in the afternoon, the partnership of TAG Heuer with… Google and Intel.

If the smartwatch really takes off, these two companies will have a dominant position, considering their willingness to serve “third parties” (just like ETA and Nivarox have done for so long). The other big player, Apple, although dependent on some of its own competitors for key technological components, is less keen on sharing…

At first, three brands of Fossil Group will offer connected accessories this year, explained Preston Moxcey, Vice Presidentin charge of wearable technology, to Europa Star: Fossil, Emporio Armani and Michael Kors (no Swiss made watches, so far). “This is a great time for us. We will develop multiple types of products. Basically, there will be a menu of functionalities in which our label brands will pick up their favourites. I can guarantee you one thing: these won’t just be cell phones on the wrist!” More to follow in our print edition, with an exclusive interview with Mr. Moxcey, who was already wearing a connected prototype on his wrist during our interview…

As an echo to this morning’s announcement, Jean-Claude Biver (TAG Heuer), David Singleton (Google) and Michael Bell (Intel) joined on stage to kick-off a “new era of collaboration between Swiss watchmakers and Silicon Valley”. There too, no wearable to wear for the journalist! But a promise: to create “a product that is both luxurious and seamlessly connected to its wearer’s daily life”.

A “win-win partnership”, stated Jean-Claude Biver. Just like the situation of ETA and Nivarox with the rest of the industry – until Swatch Group decided to close the doors. Well, that is always a risk, when the heart of your watch is beating with a “foreign” pacemaker… Or connected, shall I say! (SM)

Intel and Google, the new ETA and Nivarox

The big players dividing up the pie... or the Swiss cheese, in the case