You may have heard that the lawsuit between the Swatch Group and Tiffany & Co. is finally over. The relationship that began in 2007 (which was meant to last for at least 20 years) ended bitterly in 2011. The “strategic alliance” was to have Tiffany & Co. partner with the Swatch Group to produce Tiffany & Co. branded timepieces. Tiffany & Co. made watches before this but wanted someone to take over that part of their business (and ideally to grow it).
The first Swatch Group Tiffany & Co. watches were released in 2009 and I believe the last year they showed any new watches at Baselworld was in 2010. In 2011 the Swatch Group announced that it was going to pull out of the deal and sued Tiffany & Co., and Tiffany & Co. counter-sued. The amounts in questions were in the billions of dollars.
So what happened? Why did a relationship that was supposed to result in one of the most important watchmakers in the world according the Swatch Group go so sour, so fast? The legal proceedings between the two parties were more or less secret being done via an arbitration court in the Netherlands. It turns out that the Swatch Group won the argument, resulting in an award of 402 million Swiss Francs in damages while Tiffany & Co.’s counter-claims were dismissed. Why did that happen and how did the dispute get to that point?