Swatch pokes fun at uptight business types

The Swiss watchmaker issues its annual report in the idiosyncratic Swiss-German dialect 'to shake up our compatriots.'

By Jonathan Berr Mar 6, 2013 2:11PM
File photo of shoppers in a Swatch store in New York (© Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)Swatch Group, the world's largest watchmaker, prides itself on marching to its own beat, and now it has decided to have some fun with its annual report.

According to media reports, Swatch released its annual report in Swiss-German, an idiosyncratic dialect that many German speakers don't understand. Swiss movies in German, one of Switzerland's four official languages, are shown with subtitles in neighboring Germany.

"This act of true Swissness was done partly to shake up our compatriots who -- in their fondness for what is safe -- sometimes allow themselves to follow a rather conventional, prudent and comfortable path," Swatch Chairwoman Nayla Hayek told investors in a letter to shareholders quoted by Reuters.

Her late father, Nicolas Hayek, founded the company and is credited with helping to revive the Swiss watch industry during the 1980s. Chief Executive Nick Hayek is her brother.

About 65% of the Swiss population is German, about 18% are French and 10% Italian, according to the CIA World Factbook. Many Swiss speak more than one language.

notes that Swiss business culture is formal. Punctuality is valued, and meeting agendas are closely followed.

But Swatch's less structured approach seems to be working. The company, which recently reported better-than-expected 2012 results, has agreed to acquire Harry Winston's watch and jewelry business for $750 million, its largest deal ever.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Mar 7, 2013 3:45PM
I'm Alsatian on my father's side from the Strasbourg area on the Rhine River, dividing France and Germany.  There are Difani's in Rome, Italy, spelled DiFani, et al.  Some in Switzerland.  I'm glad our name is not spelled D'Fani. 
Mar 12, 2013 3:37PM

I was having dinner with a Cuban and a Mexican and the two tried to speak Spanish to each other with limited success. They communicated better in English even though the Cuban did have some trouble.


I was once having lunch with three members of an associated company located in California. They were Hungarian, Chinese, and Columbian and we all spoke English at lunch. I barely understood any of them, but they seemed to understand each other.


Accents and dialects make a big difference in comprehension,

Mar 7, 2013 6:05PM
Oh, I did read somewhere that the Swiss German Language is a unique dialect that other German speakers don't understand because the Swiss dialect is ,well different.  But they sound a little ashamed and strange about it instead of just saying that they have their own dialect,as do many languages. China,for instance has many dialects and most Chinese only know their own from the area they live in. 
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