Jean-Claude Biver: ‘The Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches’

“With the Apple Watch looming on the horizon for apparent release in the first quarter of 2015, the traditional watch industry is planning on how to react, both from a competitive product perspective, and anticipating how consumers will react,” Ariel Adams reports for Forbes. “Whether or not you personally want an Apple Watch or appreciate the design, most people agree that it will be a highly disruptive product. Not only is this the first serious smartwatch device meant for the mainstream consumer, but it also takes smartwatches to a new level of design, finishing, and pricing.”

“I knew exactly who to ask for an opinion: Mr. Jean-Claude Biver,” Adams reports. “After successful careers at Omega, Blancpain, and Hublot, Jean-Claude Biver currently runs the watch division at LVMH. That means he oversees luxury watch brands such as Hublot, TAG Heuer, and Zenith.”

42mm Apple Watch Edition in 18-karat yellow gold case with Midnight Blue Classic Buckle
42mm Apple Watch Edition in 18-karat yellow gold case
with Midnight Blue Classic Buckle
Some snippets from Jean-Claude Biver:

• I was a little bit disappointed because we were awaiting and expecting a typical “Apple Revolution” and what finally we saw just a brave, somehow classically connected, watch. I still believe the next generation Apple Watch will be much better and therefore will not buy this first watch.

• The Apple Watch cannot compete with any prestigious watch from a prestigious brand. The only thing you might be able to do with your 18k gold Apple Watch is to melt it down and recoup the few grams of gold; end of story!

• Yes, of course it lacks soul. But it also lacks of aesthetic tension (yin and yang), and it’s not sexy at all. It’s just a perfect 3D computer design.

• The Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches.

• The Swiss watch industry will find an answer to the “connected watch.” Not the Apple answer, which, for the time being, is mere a miniaturization of the iPhone. Nevertheless, there will be a Swiss answer to the smartwatch, with their own concept and message.

• I welcome the Apple Watch and thank them for helping to promote and prepare the wrist for us in the Swiss watch industry.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As well he should be, Jean-Claude Biver is scared shitless.

Related articles:
What the Apple Watch says about Apple – September 15, 2014
Tim Cook of Apple Watch battery life: ‘You’ll want to charge them every night’ – September 12, 2014
Old school watch makers don’t get Apple Watch – September 12, 2014
Apple Watch, the world’s first real smartwatch, will be a massive hit – September 9, 2014
Apple iWatch designer Jony Ive: Switzerland is in deep shit – September 4, 2014

98 Comments

  1. There will always be a market for luxury watches. Some people are impressed by high precision engineering, some people like them as status symbols. However traditional watches and smart watches are two entirely different types of product. Both tell time and sit on your wrist, but that’s where the resemblance ends. It’s like comparing the finest typewriter with a modern computer. Both can type documents and sit on a desk, but that’s where the resemblance ends. Again.

    However mechanical watches will last longer into the smart watch age because of their appeal to vanity and value as status symbols.

    1. I’m unconvinced that the market for classic watches is going to remain very large. While a market for high end classic watches will always exist, over time it will become a smaller and smaller niche, while smart watches will take over the mainstream watch (or should I say wearables) market.

      You can certainly argue both sides when discussing the Apple Watch vs classic watches. But Apple certainly kicked the classic watchmakers in the rear end with their watch bands. The attention to detail and finish quality can’t be had in the classic watch market in the $350 price range. Apple has one very large advantage over everyone else: volume. They will use it to brutal effect on everyone else. (Oh the humanity…)

      1. I don’t see the volume. The Apple watch is only an iPhone accessory. There is no opportunity for expansion into any other market. Unless Apple comes out with an android compatible version it’s simply going to be a subset of iPhone users that are going to be the target demographic. I expected to be a moderately successful product, and I believe it will sell well every time a new version comes out but since it’s only an iPhone accessory, the target audience isn’t large and people will get tired of upgrading every year. Also it’s biggest problem right now is there’s no killer app.

  2. I tend to agree based solely on the images I’ve seen of it that the I don’t find the design sexy. Where the iPhone’s design brought a clean, simple form to a world of clunky-junky phones, letting the OS take center stage and impress, the Apple Watch at $350+ seems to have brought a cold, simple form to a world of beautiful, crafted jewelry/fashion watches. Band options notwithstanding, the band is not the watch.

    And as much as they want say the interface is *not* just a shrunken iOS, it does seem to be. The fancy new technology in their “digital crown” is… an LED and a cog — the same fancy technology that has been in computer mice forever, only in one less dimension. And for all the talk about how your fingers wouldn’t obscure the screen, the fellow from Apple demonstrating the watch had his fingers on the screen most of the time.

    It doesn’t exist yet, they’ve got the whole world talking about it, and so on and so forth, but at this point in the game, trying to think of it as a watch disappoints, and trying to think of it as an iOS device disappoints.

    It just doesn’t seem to bring anything new or better or more beautiful to the segment, from what they’ve shown us.

      1. Not even. It’s vaporware until it ships, but from a design perspective, there’s no such thing as a v1.0 product. While I admit it’s not *ugly*, it’s just not really *anything* from a jewelry perspective.

        The more I hear about the interface, the less I like it, too.. you’re “zooming in” to a cluster of apps on the home screen, then moving around to look for the one you want? No keyboard obviously.. pre-guessed answers to text messages (if they happen to be formatted as either/or questions) or voice-to-text, which we all know is…not great. And may very well leave you talking into your watch like Dick Tracy.

        Doesn’t seem like it was experience-tested.

        I will go to the store and put my fat fingers on it to see, but it *sounds* clumsy. To be fair, Apple’s iOS devices have thus far NOT been clumsy, interface-wise, so I hope I’ll be proven wrong.

    1. I have mixed feelings about the Apple watch. I’m a long-time Apple user, almost 30 years, I’ve had every other iPhone since the first one came out, and I think the Apple watch is pretty cool, but I just have no desire to buy one. And I even bought (and still own) a Newton!

  3. The  Watch requires the extra computing power of the iPhone 6/Plus to be fully functional. So are the expensive Swiss watches going to team up with the cheap Google Android phones to provide the same functionality.
    The  Watch does far more than just watch time.

  4. The iPad was just a bigger iPhone. Now the AppleWatch is a smaller iPhone. Just like before they are not prepared for the wave to come next year. Their plan is full of holes like the swiss cheese. Apple is going to be the most profitable watch maker in the world.

  5. Literally LOL … Of course thats what he would say..

    these watch people are either complete morons.. Or in complete denial.. Or as MDN put it.. Scared shitless.
    But whats funny is how their responses and opinions are so childish and pathetic.

  6. Initially at least, the Apple Watch is not a threat to the majority of the Swiss watch industry. Most of its revenue comes from ultra-expensive mechanical watches. These are bought as works of art, items of jewelry and not as timepieces. A cheap, ten dollar, plastic quartz watch keeps better time than the finest mechanical.

    In the short term, people who are looking to buy something that starts at around $1000 and goes to several hundred thousand dollars are not going to be considering the Apple Watch. At the other end, if you are looking to buy something cheap (let’s say under $100) then you won’t consider the Apple Watch either.

    Then there’s the middle segment – which is most at risk. LVMH (who Biver works for) does not play in this space but other Swiss companies do. As do the big three Japanese watch companies and fashion brands like Fossil. A successful Apple watch could decimate these guys.

    In the longer term, even the high-end guys might start to feel the pinch. If the Apple Watch proves so useful that people feel compelled to wear it all the time then they might not wear anything else. After all there is limited real-estate on your wrist – so if the Apple Watch takes up all of your wrist time, there is no reason to buy that new TAG Heuer.

    – HCE

  7. That’s how I’d want to go out… Just complete denial. “The PC guys aren’t just going to come in here..” kind of stuff. Look at this guy. I had no idea who he was, and now here he is getting his 15 minutes. That’s something.

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