Apple Watch starts countdown on face off with Swiss industry

“Forty years ago, the Swiss watch industry nearly died. The advent of Japanese quartz watches, cheaper and more accurate than their mechanical Swiss rivals, drove many traditional watchmakers out of business,” James Shotter and Tim Bradshaw report for The Financial Times. “Two generations on, a new question is occupying the country’s watch industry: will Apple’s new smartwatch be the prelude to a similar upheaval?”

“‘I am sure that these devices represent a new market segment, and that, in the medium term, this segment will have more value than the traditional watch industry,’ says Elmar Mock, one of the inventors of the Swatch watch and founder of Creaholic, an innovation consultancy. ‘This new segment is a fantastic opportunity,” Shotter and Bradshaw report. “Analysts at Citi estimate that the smartwatch market could be worth $10bn by 2018 – and Apple is certainly bullish about its prospects. Tim Cook, chief executive, believes that Apple Watch would follow in the steps of its other blockbusters, such as the iPod and the iPhone, by redefining an entire category.”

“Functionality is not Apple Watch’s only advantage – it is also backed by enormous financial firepower. The tech company’s stock market capitalisation is larger than the entire Swiss watch industry, points out Jon Cox, head of Swiss equities at Kepler Cheuvreux,” Shotter and Bradshaw report. “Apple is also trying to position Watch as a fashion item as much as a timepiece. The device graced the cover of Vogue in China, the world’s biggest watch market, and was showcased during Paris Fashion Week at boutique Colette.”

Read more in the full article here.

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Apple Watch to grace cover of Vogue China’s November issue – October 9, 2014
Chinese model Liu Wen may be the face of Apple Watch’s launch campaign – October 4, 2014
The fashion elite crowd around Apple Watch at Colette in Paris – September 30, 2014
With Apple Watch looming, Pebble slashes price of smartwatch to $99 – September 30, 2014
Extensive Apple Watch hands on reveals iPhone downloads, manages Watch apps – September 30, 2014
Five things we learned about Apple Watch at Paris Fashion Week – September 30, 2014
Apple’s Jony Ive and Marc Newson show off Apple Watch at Colette event in Paris – September 30, 2014
Apple’s design team headed to Paris Fashion Week, likely for Apple Watch event – September 29, 2014
Can Apple disrupt the luxury watch industry with a $10,000 Apple Watch? – September 17, 2014
Jean-Claude Biver: ‘The Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches’ – September 15, 2014
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


    1. The next big thing for Switzerland is making really well crafted iPhone bands. There is always room in a fashion related market for more fashion.

      Then they should produce high quality Apple Watch compatible bands and Apple band compatible watch faces. Once people get used to wearing watches again, they will want as much variety as possible, including even swapping out the Apple Watch face for something simpler when they want to feel less connected alone or in social contexts. Or just to feel they are wearing something different.

      In other words, expand the Apple Watch physical ecosystem beyond the Apple Watch face. Don’t challenge it as the king of its own ecosystem, but get people to buy a 2nd or 3rd face for other occasions, and give them tons of band options.

  1. The Swiss watch-making industry needn’t worry too much, in my opinion. The Swiss specialize in mechanical watches, as well as some quartz movements. The self-winding variety of mechanical watches will tell time and date (and perform stopwatch functions and provide tachymeter calculations) perpetually—all the user must do is wear it at least once a week.

    The Swiss quartz movements go for at least a year on a battery.

    Apple’s Watch is in an altogether different category. As was demonstrated during Apple’s most recent keynote, it can even be used as a remote control during digital slide (Keynote) presentations. But, it’s battery will need to be frequently recharged—quite possibly every day.

    Indeed, Apple is trying to cannibalize the high-end market with their gold-alloy versions; I’m sure they will get a good proportion of the consumers who want to make a “statement” that they are *extra* special people (along with driving cars with those fsking-bright headlights that spread light to where there is no legitimate purpose so many others can know THEY just drove by). It’s the ol’ “Buy our solid 18 carat gold crap so others will Feel your presence!” marketing ploy. It works. It worked in America, and I expect it will work exceedingly well in emerging markets like China.

    Nonetheless (setting aside the glitz crap gracing the covers of Vogue), I expect the vast majority of what Apple sells will be their low-cost variety, which will appeal to a market segment where exceedingly few customers would have ever worn a Swiss-made watch capable of being worn on a scuba dive to 30 meters without breaking a sweat.

    The Swiss, in my humble opinion, will still be around 20 years from now.

  2. I have a Gold Swiss Watch my father bought shortly after World War 2 (1946) after leaving the Navy that he wore until the day he died. It still runs, has significant value beyond the Gold content and keeps good time.

    I can see the value in a new Rolex and can see it lasting like my Dad’s old watch. I do not see such value in the thing Jony Ive calls a watch and doubt it will hold it’s value over time. I am quite sure it will not hold it’s functionality.

  3. I honestly don’t see how some AppleWatch could harm the Swiss watch industry. They don’t seem anything alike. Most of those Swiss watches are built to last a long time and not be replaced every year or two. I’d say both industries should be able to thrive without one hurting the other. Both types of watches have their own purposes. I don’t think AppleWatch has any real advantage over my Casio G-Shock for everyday use so I would still keep it but I’ll also buy an AppleWatch Sport for the things it can do that the Casio can’t. Why can’t different products coexist without one destroying the other?

  4. I agree with Greg L. above. The target markets for the Apple Watch vs. traditional Swiss watches are mutually exclusive. I believe there will continue to be a viable market of customers willing to buy an expensive, handmade Swiss watch, just as there will be an enthusiastic welcome for the Apple Watch. A Rolex or IWC watch does not have sensors, nor will it. That’s not why their customers want one.

    All the noise some Swiss watch executives spewed is meaningless. Apple is creating an entirely new market. And I think the Swiss watchmakers will do just fine in spite of it. They will just be playing in different sandboxes. Let a rising tide raise all the boats.

    Okay, enough bad metaphors for the day. On to the next burning Apple controversy…

  5. About forty years ago a watch company in switzehland invented the first digital watch. The company was so intrenched in analog mechanical watches that not only did they not think there was any future in digital technology they did not bother to even patent the idea in Switzerland or any where else for that matter. They showed their digital watch idea at a watch show, in Basel I believe, where watchmakers from Asia who jumped all over the idea, the design and the patents that were theirs for the asking. Thing may have changed since then. Or maybe not. This shouldd be interesting, to say the least.

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