“Nicolas Hayek was asked to help shut the troubled Swiss watch industry, but instead he revived it by introducing the Swatch.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.
Richard Langlois has used the story of Nicolas Hayek to illustrate why Schumpeter was wrong when he worried that the entrepreneur might become obsolete.
(p. A23) Nicolas Hayek, a Lebanese-born business consultant who is widely credited with having saved the Swiss watch industry with the introduction of the Swatch, the inexpensive, plastic — and, as it transpired, highly collectible — wristwatch that made its debut in 1983, died Monday in Biel, Switzerland. He was 82.
Mr. Hayek, a founder and the chairman of the Swatch Group, died of heart failure while working at the company’s headquarters, according to an announcement on the company Web site.
The formation of the Swatch Group, which in addition to Swatch today comprises high-end watch brands like Breguet, Omega, Longines, Tissot, Calvin Klein and Mido, made Mr. Hayek one of Switzerland’s wealthiest men. The exquisite irony is that the company came about after Mr. Hayek was brought in to help shut the foundering Swiss watch industry altogether.
A flamboyant figure with a roguish sense of humor, Mr. Hayek was “a rare phenomenon in Europe — a genuine business celebrity,” as The Harvard Business Review described him in 1993.
For the full story, see:
MARGALIT FOX. “Nicolas Hayek Dies at 82; His Swatch Saved an Industry.” The New York Times (Tues., June 29, 2010): A23.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated June 28, 2010.)
Nicolas Hayek’s entrepreneurship is nicely summarized and analyzed on pp. 59-65 of:
Langlois, Richard N. The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler and the New Economy. London: Routledge, 2006.