When people hear the words "family business", it usually calls to mind a small, local firm, handed down from father to son in accordance with a somewhat antiquated tradition. The strength of the Hayek clan is that they have successfully – and uniquely – applied this family model to the largest watchmaking group in the world.
The family ethos asserts itself at every level of the company. The Swatch Group follows a course charted by Nayla, Nick and Marc Hayek that is itself very much in line with the direction taken by Nicolas G. Hayek. Nicolas, who died in 2010 at the age of 82, was the architect of the Swiss watchmaking industry’s renewal – and the founder of the Swatch Group, the result of the merger of SSIH and ASUAG to become SMH, rebranded as the Swatch Group in 1998.
Formerly the Group’s Vice-President, Nicolas’ daughter Nayla Hayek was appointed Chair of the Board of Directors on the death of her father, in addition to a number of positions she already held in various entities within the family group (including Belenos Clean Power Holding, Swatch Group Middle East, Hayek Engineering, and Swatch Group Immobilier). She is also CEO of jewellers Harry Winston, which became part of the Swatch Group in 2013.
From left to right : Marc, Nayla and Nick Hayek © Swatch Group
Her brother Nick Hayek has followed much the same path. After studying film, Nick began to work for the family group in 1992, originally in marketing, before joining the management of the Swatch watchmaking brand, becoming a member of the Board of Directors in 2010. He has been CEO since 2003. Nick Hayek has by no means lost his love of cinema, though, as witnessed by his involvement in the production of various films and shorts. As producer and assistant director, he has two feature films to his credit: Das Land von Wilhelm Tell and Family Express, starring Peter Fonda, which won the ‘Best Swiss Comedy’ award at the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in Vevey.
A third generation has taken up the baton in Marc Hayek. Like the rest of the Hayek family, he has Swiss nationality. He joined the group in 2000 before becoming CEO of Blancpain and later Chairman and CEO of Breguet, Blancpain, Jaquet Droz, and Glashütte Original. Marc Hayek has also been a member of the Swatch Group’s senior management since 2005.
Between them, the family operate over 150 factories and 18 watchmaking brands; the firm is the world’s main supplier of watch components. The Swatch Group is also a key player in the manufacture and sale of electronic systems used in watchmaking and other industries, as well as being a leader in sports timekeeping.
*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English, with a 10% discount if you use the following code: WT2021.