Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek said the company would not rush to launch high-tier smart watches, despite losing ground to companies including Apple and Samsung in the mainstream market.
Hayek told journalists that Swatch Group has begun developing high-end smart watches for its premium brands, but will continue to focus on growing sales of its recently launched Swatch Bellamy device, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The NFC-enabled Swatch Bellamy is currently available in China, and costs between €80 ($88.89) and €100 the Journal stated. Swatch previously announced that the device -- which it launched in conjunction with Visa and Visa Europe -- will also be rolled out in the U.S., Brazil and its domestic Swiss market in early 2016.
Hayek said Swatch Group's high-tier brands Omega, Longines and Tissot have developed smart watch technology, but that the company is currently focused on establishing its credentials in the sector through the Bellamy, the Journal stated.
Strategy Analytics in February revealed that smart watch shipments eclipsed sales of regular Swiss watches for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2015. Total smart watch shipments in the period hit 8.1 million units, compared to 1.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. In contrast, Swiss watch shipments in the recent quarter totalled 7.9 million units, the research company said.
The figures showed that the smart watch segment is dominated by Apple and Samsung. Strategy Analytics said Apple's devices accounted for 63 per cent of shipments in the fourth quarter of 2015, and Samsung 16 per cent.
Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, accused the Swiss watch industry of "sticking its head in the sand" with regards to the smart watch sector.
The Journal reported that many analysts regard the Swatch brand as the most vulnerable of the Swiss watch makers that have dominated the traditional wrist watch market, because it competes more closely with Apple and Samsung in the sub-$1,000 (€899) segment of the broader watch market.
In a statement emailed to FierceWireless:Europe, Mawston said that Swatch was behind the curve in the smart watch market. Strategy Analytics figures showed the company registered a market share of zero in the fourth quarter of 2015, he noted.
- see this Wall Street Journal report
Strategy Analytics: Smart watch shipments overtake Swiss watches in Q4 2015
IDC: Global wearable device sales fuelled by Apple Watch, fitness trackers in Q4 2015
Gartner: Wearables sales to rise 18.4% globally in 2016
Juniper Research: Apple dominated 2015 smart watch market
Swatch, Visa plan NFC-enabled smart watch for 2016