Swiss watchmakers’ response to revolutionary Apple Watch may be too little, too late

“With the Apple Watch due to go on sale on April 24, Intel and Google have, somewhat belatedly, revealed their own take on connected wristwear.,” Roger Laing reports for ZDNet. “The two companies have joined forces with Tag Heuer, the Swiss watchmaker owned by French luxury group LVMH, to produce the first luxury Android smartwatch, designed to compete head-on with Apple.”

“There’s no prototype, and no suggestion of a launch date, although it’s expected to go on sale towards the end of the year,” Laing reports. “In Switzerland, a country where watches – both smart and dumb – are a principal export, questions have been raised for a while about how the Swiss watch industry will cope with the threat of the Apple Watch. There are fears that the industry is underestimating the Apple threat, in the same way it did with competition from Japanese Quartz watches in the 1970s, which ended up with near disastrous consequences.”

“As Swatch co-inventor Elmar Mock, who now heads an innovation consultancy called Creaholic, points out, only one in every 200 watches made worldwide is Swiss, but the profit on that one Swiss watch is greater than the other 199 combined,” Laing reports. “The winners of the profit war are heading for a new Ice Age, Mock recently told Bloomberg. ‘Apple will succeed quickly. It will put a lot of pressure on the traditional watch industry and jobs in Switzerland… anything in the price range of 500 francs to 1,000 francs is really in danger,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: To see how this story plays out, look at the likes of Nokia, Palm, Motorola, and BlackBerry.

Related articles:
TAG Heuer, Google and Intel team up for Swiss Android Wear ‘smartwatch’ – March 19, 2015
TAG Heuer plans smartwatch as honcho Jean-Claude Biver changes mind as Apple Watch looms – December 16, 2014
Apple Watch starts countdown on face off with Swiss industry – October 31, 2014
The fashion elite crowd around Apple Watch at Colette in Paris – September 30, 2014
Jean-Claude Biver: ‘The Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches’ – September 15, 2014
Jean-Claude Biver: Apple Watch ‘too feminine; looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester’ – September 16, 2014
Barclays: Apple Watch could crush companies like Fossil – September 16, 2014
Jean-Claude Biver: ‘The Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches’ – September 15, 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. Once again the tech industry flat-out copies Apple.

    Now that they see it in front of them, it’s so clear that the only wearables model that will work is high-techdevice as a fashion/jewellery object.

      1. Exactly. They are about ten years too late. It’s not like Apple just designed the watch from scratch in the last year or so. The roots go all the way back to OS X and all of the technologies it nurtured.

        1. Actually Steve Jobs saw the future back when doing NEXT in the 1980s.

          Steve could see the move to networks and wireless communication between devices clear back then, and ACT on it.

    1. “flat-out copies”.. Actually this time they cannot as all the guts of this thing are software. They can make a case (plastic), strap, etc and simulate some of the functions but that is all.

      Actual functionality will be glued together at best. And with Apple spending years thinking this thru and Tag and the rest having 2-3 months to cheaply copy the look, I forcast complete doom. And do not forget, they will spend tons of money advertising how they are better than Apple vs making a better product.

      Plus, where are they going to sell these expensive watches, or repair them??

      Just saying.

  2. Excited to see this unfold as the tech sector and Swiss watch companies realize there are only four or three companies (or perhaps only one company ?) with the necessary raw ingredients for this space (hardware, OS , dev tools, app store, voice recognition, cloud services, brand, distribution, etc.)

    1. …and tech support!?!

      High-end watch companies can take weeks (even months) to service and return a watch under warranty. I can’t see them supporting a your typical Android customer as they frantically try to pay for parking on a busy street corner.

  3. This is not the first time they have failed to take advantage of new technology, that they invented. I believe the the Swiss did some of the first work developing digital Quartz watch technology. They thought so little of it that they showed some of the first watches at the Basel Watch Show without patenting any of the technology before hand. This was a bad idea. Before the decade was over, company’s in Japan and else were developing and manufacturing and. Marketing digital Quartz watches to the world. This devastated the Swiss watch industry. Not sure if they ever got back what they lost in market share even now. The bottom line is this. If you invent, patent that idea with as many patents as you can get to protect your intellectual ideas from Patent Trolls.

    1. Patents: “Back then” patents only lasted 17 years from issuance. So you only get a protected head start. Rarely in the history of patents do you get a patent that covers such a core technology, that no one can come up with a better solution in a few years.

      Then the original patentor, must continue to get patents issued on relatively minor items or when they go to “upgrade’ their initial invention, their competitors own the upgrade patents, forcing cross licensing.

      Patents only get your foot in the door.

  4. Have you guys seen the commercial on Android Wear? Dancing happy people doing dance moves and looking really good at it. Yep that was it. Didn’t se a dang thing on what the stupid watch can do.

  5. Android OS is synonymous with fragmentation, malware, and 2nd rate apps. How is using Android OS going to project an image of excellence on a luxury SmartWatch?

    If a luxury watchmaker wants to compete with Apple iPhone + watch experience they’ll have to design their own ecosystem. It will need to include a SmartPhone and App Store as well as a SmartWatch.

    Hire programmers: They’ll have to start with the latest stable (???) version of Android OS for phone and watch. (Android will allow use and modification of its code, eg, Amazon and its Fire tablets.) Modify the OS to close security holes, increase stability, and modify OS to only accept apps, patches and updates for OS and apps from its site.

    Hire programmers tasked with maintaining comparability with the latest Android OS developments, security updates, and patches. At some point doing so may become untenable and a new fork will be created, and become independent of the main Android OS.

    Hire web designers for website and App Store.

    Developers must submit all apps to the App Store for testing and approval, and only approved apps can be loaded on watch and phone from its website.

    Hardware for the phone shouldn’t be a problem, just find an existing Android manufacturer to build to your specifications, and load your phone OS on it.

    The luxury watchmaker would style, design and fabricate case and watchband.

    Hire an engineering team responsible for computer components selection and integration of the SmartWatch.

    This seems to be a rather expensive proposition, not to be taken lightly, but it would be a way of insuring a quality result. Not many will be likely to contemplate doing so.

    Duplicating the Apple experience of iPhone + watch will not be easy or cheap! I don’t think it realistic for a luxury (mechanical movement) watchmaker to have the mindset, motivation, to make the necessary financial investment involved in the production of a quality, luxury SmartWatch. 😀

    1. This is why they’re partnering with Google and Intel. Both of those companies bring expertise (?) which no watchmaker can possibly hope to acquire, and their ability to execute something in a short period of time is dubious at best.

      The fact is Apple built a massive ecosystem juggernaut, something no one else can even come close to replicating and be even remotely competitive in price. Other watchmakers would be well-advised to let Apple have the full-blown smart watch category and instead concentrate on adding high-tech features to more traditional watch products, more like a blend product which could appeal to those who don’t want an Watch.

  6. Maybe the Swiss need to speak to the government in Finland to get some tips from their experience with the demise of Nokia market dominance.

    With the Swiss franc now no longer pegged to the Euro, there is the potential for a ‘perfect storm’

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