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The Battery Ran Out

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Nicolas Hayek, the man that saved the Swiss watch industry with the 1983 introduction of the Swatch, has passed away. Swatch watches—a huge departure from traditional (and expensive) Swiss watch manufacturing—were inexpensive, highly-collectible, and plastic; direct competition for the Japanese cheapos that were rapidly gaining market share on Switzerland at the time. One of the richest men in Europe, Hayek was a major business celebrity and was known for wearing up to eight watches at a time—four on each wrist including his blockbuster colorful, plastic numbers alongside extremely high-end timepieces from Omega, Longines, Tissot, and Breguet. These luxury brands, among others, fell under his SMH (the Société Suisse de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie) umbrella and were burgeoned by the massive success of Swatch. Hayek is also credited with coming up with the tiny Smart car, saying one only needs "room for two big adults and a crate of beer." Smart guy! [NYT, Washington Post]