Saturday, July 10, 2010

RIP Nicolas Hayek

Who? Well you'd be excused. I didn't know the name until I read the obituary but it was one of those cases where I knew I loved the guy without knowing who he was.

Back in the day watches worked like (excuse this) clockwork. You wound up a spring which powered the device as it uncoiled. They were a bit tick a tick a Timex tra la la dull and unless you had a many-jewelled one they were much of a muchness. The Swiss had a reputation for being the finest watch and clock makers in the world and their time-pieces were associated with leaving gifts or twenty-five years in the buying department acknowledgements. On a 21st birthday you might expect a good watch as a pressie.

Then along came LCD displays, cheap, long-life batteries and Japanese labour and the Swiss looked as if they would have to go back to chocolate making or harbouring war criminals for a living again.

Plans were actually made to wind-up (there I go again, sorry) the Swiss watch industry. Enter Nicolas Hayek. A brainwave here, a buy out there and a sense of fashion everywhere and the Swatch was born. The wonderful Swatch. Cheap but fashionable. Only one needed but collectible. Durable, efficient and cool.

Hayek understood that everything you wear, however functional, can be jewellery. Apart from a couple of gift watches I have received I have used nothing else to tell the time since the mid 1980s. He died last month aged 82. RIP.

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