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Swatch CEO sees 2016 Swiss launch for pay watch: newspaper

Swatch watches are displayed in front of a shop at the central station in Zurich in this February 4, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swatch Group (UHR.VX) expects to launch a smartwatch that can be used to make payments in Switzerland next spring, Chief Executive Nick Hayek said in an interview with a Swiss newspaper published on Saturday.

The watch is likely to use a pre-paid system, Hayek told Finanz und Wirtschaft, unlike a version launched in China this month that can be used like a debit card.

Hayek said this was because the payment system in Switzerland is a "complex regulatory matter" compared with similar systems in China or even the United States.

Hayek expressed optimism about 2016, saying the Swiss watchmaker had invested in a pipeline of new products.

He said Swatch had some catching up to do in the United States, but hoped a six-year deal with the National Basketball Association in which he'll pay 180 million Swiss francs ($182.28 million) would help boost demand for the company's Tissot brand.

"Up until now, the brand has gotten too little attention," Hayek told the newspaper. "Our cooperation with the NBA will open doors to department stores and will give Tissot more space at sales points."

Swiss watch exports posted their biggest quarterly drop since 2009 in the third quarter as plummeting sales in Hong Kong and China spread to other Asian markets in September, the industry said this month.

(Reporting by John Miller, editing by Susan Thomas)