CASE STUDY - Luxury Smartwatch

ESCATEC's pivotal role in bringing a luxury smartwatch to market

In 2015, an American technology company ventured into the wearable market with a cutting-edge chipset. Collaborating with several watch brands, they aimed to introduce a range of innovative smartwatches to the market, including a high-end luxury model, that could rival competitors like Apple.

The American company initially partnered with a Chinese contract manufacturer, but from the outset, the partnership faced numerous design and manufacturing challenges. Despite a robust supply chain and substantial investment in jigs and fixtures, the project was floundering.

The Challenge

A significant hurdle was integrating the electronic touchscreen module into a titanium housing, a deviation from traditional luxury watch designs that caused the EMS provider numerous headaches: 

  • Snags with prototyping
  • Persistent quality issues
  • Project delays 
  • Mounting costs


With quality issues dogging the project, the search for a new EMS began.

Our American OEM needed a partner with global facilities and expertise in both design and volume manufacturing. The quest centred around Switzerland, a centre of watchmaking excellence and home to some of the world’s best facilities for high-tech electronics design and manufacture.

The Solution

After a rigorous selection process, ESCATEC was chosen for their global capabilities and local expertise.

Cross-functional team established in Switzerland


ESCATEC formed a cross-functional team in Switzerland, working closely with the customer's dedicated project team. This collaboration facilitated swift resolution of design, assembly, and quality issues.


Rapid problem-solving techniques deployed


Despite the previous assembly challenges, ESCATEC benefited from receiving quality work instructions and access to many jigs and fixtures during the EMS transfer. The ESCATEC team immediately got to work reviewing the product design and existing processes and equipment. They quickly identified why the challenges with mounting the electronic module to the titanium housing had occurred and set about explaining how to overcome these.




Focused investment and enhancements


Overcoming these issues required further design modifications and additional investment in jigs and fixtures which the customer fully supported with zero delay. Despite the time crunch, the two companies rapidly met these needs, and sample builds quickly resumed.


Agile Design iteration


After several design iterations, ESCATEC successfully resolved the electronic display module integration issue, paving the way for stable quality sample production and eventually, volume production.

The Results

This partnership enabled the transition from prototype to volume production in just six months. To meet demand and recover lost time, ESCATEC operated two shifts, consisting of fourteen production operatives on each shift, plus several process engineers., significantly scaling up production to meet launch deadlines.

The success of the partnership led to ESCATEC securing the build work on the next generation model. Launched in 2017, the new version was a modular smartwatch, offering 56 customizable options, with prices ranging from $1,650 to $18,000 for the premium Tourbillion model. 


Both projects are a testament to the power of collaboration and commitment to problem-solving in design and manufacture.




The ESCATEC team, initially accustomed to stable designs before production, adapted to a more dynamic, 'fail-fast' approach, enhancing their innovation and equipment selection strategies. 


At the same time, the American company gained a deeper appreciation for the Swiss team's technical expertise and problem-solving approach. This synergy transformed ESCATEC from a traditional EMS provider to a proactive, solution-oriented partner, significantly contributing to the project's success.


ESCATEC's innovative approach and focused investment in new equipment were key in addressing major technical challenges.