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Lebanese Swatch watch magnate dies

Nicolas Hayek is widely credited with rescuing Swiss watch industry.

June 29, 2010 9:45 by

Lebanese-born Swiss business magnate, Nicolas Hayek, 82, died Monday of apparent heart failure, while working at Swatch Group headquarters in Biel, Switzerland, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Founder and chairman of the Swatch Group, Hayek was the innovator of the Swatch watch, an inexpensive, plastic Swiss-made wristwatch that is widely credited with rescuing a doomed Swiss watch industry. Hayek’s Swatch Group, today includes high-end watch brands, such as Breguet, Omega, Longines, Tissot, Calvin Klein and Mido.

In 1983, Hayek’s SMH watch company, later renamed the Swatch Group, introduced the Swatch – a lightweight, brightly colored, Swiss watch, designed to compete with the inexpensive digital watches that were offering stiff competition to traditional Swiss timepieces. Upon its debut in the US, it retailed for less than $35, but quickly became a collector’s item.

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