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Apple reportedly working with Swatch, other watchmakers to roll out multiple 'iWatch' devices

As rumors of Apple's anticipated entry into the smartwatch sector mount, a report on Wednesday claims Cupertino has been collaborating with Swatch and other major traditional watchmakers to release a range of branded products that appeal to a wider swath of buyers.

Swatch Group subsidiary Harry Winston's Opus XIII. | Source: Harry Winston

According to an anonymous source, Apple has been trying to curry support from within the watch industry on possible partnership deals to release a "family" of smartwatch products that suit a variety of styles "from geek to chic," reports VentureBeat.

The publication says Apple may be working with multiple watch companies —the source said "he would be shocked" if Timex was not a partner —though Swatch is thought to be a lock. Details of the partnerships are scarce, though the source claims watchmakers may be working with Apple on branded devices that support expected "iWatch" functions like health and fitness tracking.

Swatch, along with Suunto and Fossil, previously produced watches using Microsoft's now defunct Smart Personal Object Technology (SPOT) platform, what can be considered a first-foray into the smartwatch world.

For Apple, a partnership with an established watchmaker would bring technical and design know-how from players in a well-established industry. Swatch Group, for example, has 19 labels under its umbrella, including Breguet, Omega and Harry Winston, among others.

One of the big stumbling blocks for current smartwatches is style. Tech companies not versed in watch design, like Samsung, LG and Motorola, are trying their hand at what amounts to jewelry; or a fashion statement for "normal" consumers. They have, for the most part, failed.

Breaking into and attempting to shake up a centuries-old industry without knowing what works and what doesn't is a fool's errand. To that end, Apple has reportedly been reaching out to Swiss watchmakers and poaching horology experts, including a former TAG Heuer sales director.

If true, Wednesday's news is an abrupt about-face for Swatch's CEO Nick Hayek, Jr., who last year said an Apple smartwatch would not be "the next revolution" in tech. Replacing an iPhone with an "interactive terminal on your wrist" is a difficult proposition since space for an adequate display is limited, Hayek said.