Nicolas Hayek - One of Switzerland's Living National Treasures

Nicolas Hayek Chairman swatch group
Nicholas Hayek is, indisputably, one of Switzerland’s most colourful and dynamic living treasures. He is revered as a saviour of Swiss watch manufacturing and reviled by some purists who advocate just the kind of approach to watchmaking that brought the Swiss to their knees in the first place. But adore him or condemn him, no one can take away his great achievements in helping resuscitate the dinosaur at death’s door that represented the Swiss watch industry in the late 1970s.

I wrote an essay in 2006 on Hayek and two of his major ‘collaborateurs’ , Pierre Arnold and Ernst Thomke, who through insight and sheer force of personality transformed the industry into the robust and healthy entity it is today. Click here to read that essay.

Hayek, represents a grand lesson in what could be termed principle-centred entrepreneurialism. His philosophy was, and is, based on creation and growth, of a world of potential abundance instead of scarcity, and a fundamental understanding of some of the most powerful and intrinsic levers that motivate human acquisitiveness. He also personifies a hard-headed mercantilism that has its roots as much in the bazaars of Beirut than it does in the boardrooms of Bienne.

Omega aficionados owe him a great debt, for had he not taken up the challenge and convinced a group of conservative bankers that the dinosaur still had a heart beat and could be nursed back into rude health, our beloved Omega brand may not exist today.

Hayek is entering his golden years and, fortunately, theTimeTV has recorded for posterity a variety of interviews that document this amazing man’s endeavours during the darkest hours of Swiss horology.
In this short video, Hayek explains how he came to be involved in the rescue of some of Switzerland’s greatest brands.

Click here for a short piece on how the swatch phenomenon was born.
In this 1990s video, Hayek shares prophetic insights into some of the very issues that contributed to the current malaise in western economies.

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