BASEL, Switzerland — With their hundreds of years of watchmaking experience, Swiss watchmakers can afford to take a long view of technological fads and fashions. So-called smartwatches, packing computing power into a wrist-sized gadget, aren't in their plans for now.
Technology groups from Samsung Electronics to Sony are counting on wearable electronic devices able to hook up to the Internet, melding fashion and technology in what could be the next mass consumer trend. Yet so far the Swiss see little appeal in such devices.
"There's a lot of noise about smartwatches, but you don't see them on people's wrists," Francois Thiebaud, head of Swatch Group SA's Tissot brand, told Reuters in an interview at a watch fair in Basel.
"We don't want to do anything that doesn't add value for the customer, we're not interested in launching a gadget watch," Thiebaud said.
Family-owned Patek Philippe and La Montre Hermes, the watch unit of luxury goods group Hermes International, don't see smartwatches as a threat for their business.
Both Patek's Thierry Stern and Hermes' Luc Perramond said their target market was different from the young buyers who might be looking for something to wear on their wrists.
"When they grow older," Perramond said, "that may be a watch."
Yet no consumer goods maker can afford to turn a completely blind eye to global technological advances.
Thiebaud said Tissot, together with parent Swatch Group, had set up a group to assess the potential of launching a watch connected to the Internet, but no final decision had been made.
Swatch Group Chief Executive Nick Hayek said last week that the company, the world's biggest watchmaker, had been approached by several major technology companies for a partnership in smartwatches. But Hayek was not keen on entering any new venture, after past deals with Microsoft and Tiffany & Co ended in litigation.