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The High Tech innovations of the Old-World Watches.
By Joseph Fischer - Exclusive Views on the Global Hospitality
Friday, 20th June 2014

Exclusive Feature: Reading the header, you are probably wondering, what does the watch-making industry has in common with the lodging industry?

Apart from the fact that I am a mechanical watch collector for the past 40 years, I have been observing this industry during the past 30 years.

Actually, I received my first branded - DOXA Swiss Made mechanical watch for my 13th birthday ("Bar-Mitzvah"). 
It is remarkable to watch how this 'old-world' industry had its crisis periods in the 70's and 80's with the introduction of the cheap and reliable Japanese-made mechanical watches, which were followed by the ever cheaper and more reliable quartz watches.

Many economists and futurists saw the end of the quality Swiss-made mechanical watch-making industry.

As we all know, this didn’t happen. In 1983, a brilliant Swiss businessman – the late Mr. Nicolas Hayek - started the Swatch Company and the rest is history.

What triggered my writing today is a very interesting article in the Economist titled "The high-tech world of old-world watchmaking" In this article, the writer explains how the traditional Swiss watchmaking industry is fending-off  the new 'threats' to the traditional, conventional watchmaking in the form of new wearable 'smart-watches' connecting to the 'smart-phones'.

Smart phones are being used by many Millenials not just as a communication device, but also as a time-indicator.
So, how does the Swiss watchmaking industry 're-invent' itself just 30 years after its last 're-invention'?

Putting it in one sentence:

By keeping its core values of:

  • Quality
  • Affordability
  • Accuracy
  • Price – value.  
How do they do that? 

By using true 'high-tech' innovations.

In my view, the leader in this industry is the Swatch group.

This year, Swatch is introducing a brand-new mechanical watch called "SISTEM 51".

Sistem 51 seeks to do for old-style watches what Swatch did for digital timepieces three decades ago. Swatch used innovative design and automation to cut the number of parts in a quartz watch from about 90 to 51. Sistem 51 takes the 200 or more parts in a mechanical watch and cuts that to 51, too.

The watch is regulated and sealed at the factory, where assembly is fully automated - a first for mechanical watches. Sistem 51 may be 100% Swiss-made, but its makers are Helvetian robots. It will cost about $150 when it goes on sale in America later this year.

I can go on writing about this hobby – passion I have, as I am sure many of you also share it with me.

But it is time to make the necessary comparison: Back in 2003, I tried my luck, launching a new, rather innovative hotel concept called "SmartHotels". The core principals were:

Functional needs:
  • Central city locations
  • Great design 
  • Limited service
  • Great value
  • High-End in-room entertainment technology
  • Security
Emotional Needs:
  • Design
  • Brand
  • Sharing and exploring
The idea of SMARTHOTELS was ahead of its time and I ended up spending lots of my own funds trying to get investors on-board. 

I guess luck, timing and 'karma' had lots to do with it, like with most things in life.

Nowadays, I am seeing more and more hotel operators going in this direction. Hotel brands such as MotelOne in Germany and the recently launched MOXY brand by Marriott.

The bottom line is: let's keep our core values, but try to reduce the "moving-parts" in the traditional hotel. In a similar way to what Swatch is doing with its SISTEM 51.

We should use technology to reduce operational costs. 

The technology is already available

Dear friends, I shall be happy to Email you a copy of my "SmartHotel" concept.  Maybe you could draw some useful ideas to incorporate with your own hotel/ brand. 

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from is not permitted.

Joseph - Yossi - Fischer the CEO of Vision Hospitality & Travel - international lodging & Travel Solutions.

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