Swiss watchmakers gear up to compete with Apple Watch, could see sales boost

in Apple Watch edited March 2015
Although Swiss watchmakers have sometimes been passive or even resistant in response to smartwatches like the Apple Watch, the companies are said to be working on smartwatches of their own and could even see a boost to sales of traditional luxury models.

Major firms such as Richemont, Guess, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), and Swatch have all been working on smartwatches during the past year, according to Reuters. The companies are hoping they will be able to counteract, or perhaps even capitalize on, the buzz for the forthcoming Apple Watch.

The Swiss watchmakers' efforts were all previously known, but are again garnering attention because of this week's Apple Watch event. For example, the Swatch effort will support wireless payments, like the Apple Watch. Two reported differences are that it should have a longer-lasting battery and support both iPhones and Android devices.

In January, Richemont's Montblanc subsidiary launched the TimeWalker Urban Speed, which is actually a mechanical watch boosted by an interchangeable, Bluetooth-enabled strap. Guess is launching the Guess Connect line later this year, which will pair with iPhones or Android devices, support voice commands, and work with existing mobile apps.

A CCS Insight analyst, Ben Wood, told Reuters that Swiss watchmakers could actually benefit from the Apple Watch, since it may spark new interest in watches among people who are otherwise used to telling the time from their phones.

Berenberg Bank analysts also said that the smartwatch market has limits, since unlike a conventional watch the expectation is that a smartwatch will be upgraded frequently and quickly lose its value. Rolex's flagship mechnanical watch, the Submariner, has actually increased in value.

Publicly, Swiss watchmakers have had a number of different takes on the Apple Watch. For example, Swatch co-inventor Elmar Mock said this week that Apple's wearable device "will put a lot of pressure on the traditional watch industry and jobs in Switzerland."

Last September, when the Apple Watch was first announced, Tag Heuer head Jean-Claude Biver dismissed the device as having "no sex appeal," and being "too feminine." He later backpedaled in January, however, calling Apple's device "an incredible achievement."


  • Reply 1 of 7
    ahmlcoahmlco Posts: 432member

    Pressure? "Anything in the price range of 500 francs to 1,000 francs ($500-$1,000) is really in danger," Mock told Bloomberg. "I do expect an Ice Age coming toward us."

  • Reply 2 of 7
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,336moderator
    Rolex should partner with Apple. Apple is adding its tech to automobiles with CarPlay. Apple would welcome an overture from the likes of Rolex and other top-of-the-market luxury watch makers. They wouldn't have to go to Android or roll their own OS/ecosystem; Apple would welcome them with open arms knowing these players would pick up at $10k+, right where Apple leaves off and so would not compete against the Apple Watch. This would add instant halo-effect caché to the Apple Watch, squashing all hope for any other smartwatch OS/ecosystem maker. It would be instant game-over versus the year or two it'll take the world to realize that it's game-over regardless.

    In the fullness of time, all of the traditional watch makers are vulnerable. The utility of a watch as a timepiece has already been wholly disrupted by technology. Gone are the days when people check the time 100 times a day; smartphones with reminders and appointment calendars inform us of our time-based commitments, and these devices are looked at for a variety of purposes throughout the day, with the time ever present on screen. Smart watches will first supplant ordinary watches as a more functional fashion accessory. And with smart watch functionality soon becoming expected, luxury smart watches will come on the scene where they will displace those luxury watches whose functionality extends only to telling the time and a few other time-based functions. A technology ecosystem will be a critical part of the picture, and this is something none of the existing luxury watchmakers can bring to the market in any meaningful way compared with the technology giants currently moving into this space. Within 10 years, the notion of a luxury watch will be synonymous with luxury smart watch and the Rolexes of the world will be on the path to extinction.

    Just as smartphones replaced a host of stand-alone appliances (cameras, watches/alarm clocks, radios/music players, etc), the smarwatch will replace many more; physical car/home keys, workplace entry cards and fobs, TV remote controllers, camera and action video camera remotes, home control remotes for heating and air conditioning, lights, alarms, etc. All these capabilities will create reasons to have wearable tech. Even, or especially, a very wealthy person who today wears a Rolex as mere fashion, never raising his arm to determine the time, will want a smart version of this luxury item when he realizes his legacy watch implies he still has to carry a physical fob for his $180k Jag. To him, the cost of pulling out his IPhone, and yes, he carries an iPhone, to select one of the pre-programmed lighting arrangements in and around his summer home on the Hamptons, will be enough to move him to a luxury smart watch. (Much cooler when bringing that hot date home to simpy raise your wrist, utter the words "Lights Down" to select a pre-defined [romantic] lighting option and see all the indoor and outdoor lighting instantly adjust than to say, "wait a second baby" while you pull your iPhone out and launch an app to scroll through a list of lighting options.)
  • Reply 3 of 7
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    Rolex should partner with Apple. Apple is adding its tech to automobiles with CarPlay. ...

    Nothing in this stream-of-consciousness post even remotely justifies an Apple-Rolex hook-up.
  • Reply 4 of 7
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,336moderator

    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

    Nothing in this stream-of-consciousness post even remotely justifies an Apple-Rolex hook-up.

    Time will tell, Mr. You.  It makes a lot more sense than you are yet aware.

  • Reply 5 of 7
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,316member
    The question is, is "Apple" the new "Rolex" in terms of brand, anyway?
  • Reply 6 of 7
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,254member
    chadbag wrote: »
    The question is, is "Apple" the new "Rolex" in terms of brand, anyway?

    It depends on what the definition of is, is. ;)

    But no, I'd say that was apples and Rolexes I mean oranges.
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