The Swatch Revolution in Battery Power

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May 2015

According to CEO Nick Hayek, the Swiss watchmaking giant is working on a new “revolutionary battery” which will change the watch world & the automotive world.

The arrival of the Apple Watch was thought to challenge the Swiss watch industry like the “quartz revolution” did previously. While it’s still too soon to tell the final outcome of this new tech revolution in the watch world, it is relatively clear who this revolution will challenge.

Based on the price-point of most smartwatches, it’s not the entire luxury Swiss watch industry that is under threat. The Swatch Group’s entry level Swatch line of watches seems likely to be the main victim of the increasing popularity of smart wearables, given they target similar consumers with similar prices. So how has the Swiss giant responded to this threat?

In an interview with Handelszeitung , Swatch CEO Nick Hayek did not show too much concern with smartwatches. On the contrary, he sees the new trend as an “opportunity for us” to increase sales. Hayek also sees the benefits of marrying mobile computing and watches, which will allow people to wear watches more often, especially when they are on the go.

Part of his optimism is surely because of Swatch’s anticipated release of its own smartwatch, the Touch Zero One, next month. Priced lower than the introductory Apple Watch models, the Touch Zero One will also allow wearers to make contactless payments and the ability to sync with a smartphone via Bluetooth.

Touch Zero One
Touch Zero One

But the more surprising news to come from Hayek was the announcement that next year Swatch will release a revolutionary battery. Reuters has also confirmed Hayek’s statements, and confirmation would be necessary based on such a big statement.

According to Hayek:

"Whoever brings a battery for a smartwatch to the market that you don’t need to charge for six months has a competitive advantage. We’re working intensively on this problem with our research group Belenos and battery producer Renata. Next year we will come to the market with a revolutionary battery, not only for watches but also for automobiles.”

A lot was speculated about the battery life of the Apple Watch, and odds are most smartwatches will need a daily charge to keep users connected. So to have six months battery life on a smartwatch will really be revolutionary. The problem is, so far we have no indication as to how Swatch will actually pull this off.

At first, Hayek’s mention of the automobile industry also raises eyebrows. It’s true that batteries are the biggest limit to bringing electric cars to the masses, because they are big, expensive to produce, and have a short charge life. It seems then, that both the smartwatch and the electric car industries are facing the same battery challenge. And now with Swatch apparently getting into the electric car business, maybe we can expect a smartwatch from Tesla Motors in the near future, too! (VJ)