- The Swatch Watch was created and popularized in 1983 by the Swatch Group Ltd., the world's largest watch producer and distributor. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Swiss watch industry lost much of its dominance to Japanese competitors. In an attempt to recapture lost market share, The Swatch Group created twelve new, inexpensive "disposable watches"—the word swatch is derived from the contraction of "second watch." These fun watches, offered in many different colors, were instantly successful and, by the mid-1980s, there were more than 2.5 million sold. In the late 1980s, Swatch created a limited edition artist series with Keith Haring and other artists which were sold in Swatch stores. Swatch diversified over the years and acquired numerous Swiss and other luxury brands including Pierre Balmain, Blancpain, Breguet, Certina, Jaquet Droz, Endura, Flik-Flak, Glashutte-Original, Hamilton, Leon Hatot, Calvin Klein, Omega, Mido, Rado, and Tissot. Swatch continues to reinvent itself with its marketing and promotion campaigns. Beginning in 1999, it launched an e-mail watch. In 2005, it created the "smart watch," known as Paparazzi, that can access MSN Direct service to receive personalized information such as news, sports, weather, horoscopes, and more. Its ad campaign prompted people to wear their Swatch on their right wrist instead of the left. The Swatch Group was chosen as the official timekeeper of the Olympic Games in Athens, Turin, and Beijing and of the Ski/Snowboard World Cup Competitions.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.
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