Industry mourns legendary watchmaker Nicolas Hayek

CEO-Nicolas-Hayek.jpg

Richemont expresses its sorrow over the death of the Swatch founder.

The jewellery industry is in mourning today after the death of legendary Swatch founder Nicolas Hayek on Monday.

Hayek died, aged 82, from heart failure while working at the Swatch Group company headquarters in Biel, Switzerland.

Best known for co-founding Swatch in 1983, Hayek was also the founder, chairman and chief executive of Hayek Engineering Inc.

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Hayek is also credited with having a fundamental role in the creation of the Smart Car, a small European car created for inner city use by Mercedes Benz.

On Monday, a Swatch spokesman said: “With deep sadness and regret we inform you that Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek, Chairman and Delegate of the Board of Directors of The Swatch Group Ltd. unexpectedly passed away today due to heart failure during work at his beloved Swatch Group.

“Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek’s greatest merit was his enormous contribution to the saving of the Swiss watch industry and the foundation and the commercial development of the Swatch Group. Mr. Nicolas G. Hayek’s extraordinary vision enabled him to realize and ensure the sustainability of a strong watch making enterprise with high Swiss added value. He is rightly recognized as a leading entrepreneur in this country."

In 2007, Hayek was rated the world’s 273rd richest person with an estimated wealth of US$3.2 billion. His son Nick Hayek, Jr., is the current CEO of Swatch Group.

Swiss company Richemont, the world’s largest jewellery maker, made a statement today on behalf of its management and employees, in order to express their grief.

Richemont executive chairman and group chief executive Johann Rupert said: "Having worked with Nicolas Hayek in a professional capacity for many years and having regarded him as a personal friend and mentor, I was deeply saddened to learn of his death.

"On behalf of all of my colleagues at Richemont, let me take this opportunity to extend our most sincere condolences to Mrs Hayek and to his family.

"Nicolas Hayek’s death is an immense loss for Switzerland and for the watch industry. He was the driving force behind Swiss watchmaking; its leader and its saviour. Our industry has lost one of its champions, respected by everyone who dealt with him; a man of honour, gravitas and great personal charm.

"He was a true leader and entrepreneur and an inspiration to me. He will be missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have known him."

 

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