Apple Watch Edition is poised to disrupt the classic Swiss watch

Apple Watch “is designed to let you quickly dictate responses to text messages, check the weather, find a child-friendly Ethiopian restaurant — things you’d normally rely on your smartphone to do,” Kevin Sintumuang reports for The Wall Street Journal. “But while several smartwatches—also known as ‘connected watches’ and ‘wearables’ — have entered the market, none has so directly and deftly taken aim at both the male and female luxury and fashion consumer.”

“This all raises the question — what do the boys in Geneva and Paris think? Will Apple Watch dominance some day force them to abandon their craft and jump into the smartwatch business to stay afloat?” Sintumuang writes. “In many ways, their reaction amounts to little more than the brushing away of a mildly bothersome fly. ‘I don’t believe [the Apple Watch] will affect the Hublots and Breitlings and Pateks,’ said Jean-Claude Biver, who is president of LVMH’s watch division and CEO of its brand Tag Heuer. ‘You don’t buy a $20,000 watch to tell you what time it is. Time is everywhere. You buy it because it is a piece of art. And art is eternity.'”

“It’s no coincidence that last month at Baselworld, the luxury-watch world’s biggest convention, Tag Heuer announced a partnership with Silicon Valley stalwarts Google and Intel to collaborate on a smartwatch that will be unveiled later this year,” Sintumuang reports. “Mr. Biver said that Tag Heuer decided to make a connected timepiece to offer consumers a luxe option that will be significantly less expensive than the Apple Edition. ‘If I were to sell you a $10,000 or $20,000 smartwatch, my conscience would have a problem,’ he said. ‘Maybe it should have a label, like on cigarettes. Warning: This watch is not eternal.’ Tag’s as-yet-unnamed smartwatch will likely start at just under $1,000, said Mr. Biver, while models in ultralight magnesium or titanium could go up to $2,500.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s what makers of Swiss or any other watches should do: Push the idea of wearing of two watches, one on each wrist or two on one wrist, into vogue. Because once people start using Apple Watch, they aren’t going to want to leave it at home. Ever. They won’t want to go to dinner parties without their Apple Watch. And that’s bad, bad news for watchmakers not named Apple. Watch and see.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Brawndo Drinker” and “Judge Bork” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Jean-Claude Biver changes his tune, calls Apple Watch ‘a fantastic product, an incredible achievement’ – January 20, 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

21 Comments

  1. I agree, in part, that a watch can be an enduring art piece. Some watches are an investment, and hold their value. I don’t happen to be in the financial category to afford one of those watches. I did find myself thinking the Watch was artistry when I tried one on the other day. It won’t hold it’s value, but I think it looks pretty sharp for the first attempt by Apple.

    1. There are many young people of the iPhone generation who have never bothered with a watch – because they have a phone.

      The watch market will grow as well as ‘eat from the market share ‘ of those inclined for fashion to wear a nice looking watch – and that element will impact the Swiss manufacturers.

    2. I wrote about this the other day: Version 1 Apple products are investments. The first iPhone, which was released in 2007, is worth multiple thousands of dollars. Version 1 of the Apple Watch Edition will be worth over $100,000 in 10 years.

      1. Apple 1 built in a garage is completely different from a watch built by the millions from day 1.
        Value is based upon limited numbers or uniqueness.
        The IPad presented to the Pope or a watch presented to Largerfeld are going to be valuable not an iPhone 1st Generation – unless it has a special serial number etc.

  2. Apple will take between 1/2 to 2/3 of the total worldwide revenue for watches in the $200-600 range. If your products are in that range, counting on Apple growing worldwide revenue enough to leave your company untouched is a grave, if not fatal, mistake.

    Remember what Ballmer T Clown said about the iPhone. I haven’t even seen a “Blackberry” in over two years, not at work, not anywhere.

  3. I’ve never paid so much for a watch like I just did where I bought a, sight unseen, black stainless steel Apple Watch. Previous most expensive was a Casio I bought in Jamaica for $126. I’m of the belief that I’m not the only one doing this. My wife hasn’t even complained, she wants one.

  4. High end Swiss watches appeal to very specific kinds of buyers. I see no reason why they would buy an Apple Watch instead. Too much is being made out of all this. Sure, a lot of would-be Swiss buyers will buy Apple Watches instead, but I doubt that it will hurt the Swiss watch makers in a huge way.

    1. Lots of people like horses, so I think it’s safe to say there will always be a market for carriages. It’s not really the same market as the automobile.

    2. They are dying off. The Heritage watch only tells time. Those to whom they would hand down their watches to won’t use them, and wear them, perhaps, on rare occasions. They’ll want an Watch Edition. 🖖😀⌚️

    1. The limited quantity horological masterpieces out of the Swiss watchmakers are _artistry_ and craftmanship. They are individually unique and valuable machines with a centuries old heritage. The Apple Watch is a commonly engineered (not hand-built) consumer item. Personally, I can’t see these as interweaving markets.

      1. The place where they “interweave” is on the wrist. Unless the entire planet looses all aesthetic sense, people will wear exactly 0 or 1 watches at any given time.

        And if you get used to having smarts on your wrist, you are unlikely to go back to non-smarts on your wrist.

        Apple is likely planning to continue expanding variation and changes in look for the Apple Watch and bands every year. Some (rich) people will get a kick out of having a series of different designs.

        Note that while people play up the “investment” factor in expensive watches, they mostly just like them because they are (genuinely) cool.

        The real value of watches, jewelry, collectables, etc., is not actually anywhere near where it is often quoted as these are not liquid markets and are artificially held up by hoarding and people’s wishful thinking.

    2. Yes, a nice automatic (like a Tag) IS a work of art.

      I have had several “expensive” watches (4 figures), and looking at the sapphire back of my Tag automatic (which I wear in dressier situations instead of my Kickstarter Pebble) shows a real level of craftsmanship and-yes-art.

      The intricacy of the gears and springs is beautiful and amazing.

      But, yes, all of my watches will stay in the winder after Friday. 😀⌚️

    1. Exactly, art, jewelry, collectibles are rarely worth what people believe as these markets are not liquid. Only the rarest of the rare is really worth what people say it is.

      The illusion of owning something valuable is valuable to people, but that doesn’t make something actually valuable.

  5. Look at the prices people pay for diamonds, and they don’t do anything at all! So just because a high end watch “only” tells the time doesn’t mean they will be usurped by smart watches, at least not yet. High end mechanical wristwatches will continue to do very well among people who love them, a small percentage of the overall market perhaps but still large in number. Just as high end mechanical watches survived, then once again thrived after the introduction of quartz watches, we’ll see these watches survive and thrive alongside the Apple Watch. Watches are fashion items for many people and who want’s to be wearing the same item as everyone else?

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