The ticking is unlikely to be the second hand on any digital watch. Yet, with the recent announcement of the Apple Watch, consumers are counting down its long anticipated release. We ask, how will these smart watches beat alongside the more traditional analogue models?
The proliferation of smartphones and consumer demand for continuous connectivity have changed the way people access time. Smart watches are not new however the market is yet to take off. There have been several wearable devices worn on the wrist, like the Nike Fuel Band, Jawbone Up, and FitBit. However, most of these devices are focused on tracking your fitness activity data instead of serving as a watch.
A smart watch is a device (pictured right) that features not only the time and date, but also many other functions including web browsing, social media, and the ability to track user data by connecting to the internet and to your smartphone. Some versions like the Apple Watch enable development of downloadable apps, so that consumers can have their watch serve different needs.
Switzerland’s closely guarded watch production is perceived as solid and proud. Every year, Swiss watch manufacturers experience change in some way. How will the Swiss watch industry fare against these new smart watches? They have seen the introduction of quartz movements, rise and fall of calculator watches, analogue-digitals and a multitude of brands big and small.
Considering that tech giant Apple has ambitions to compete at the premier level in the watch industry, market gurus say smart devices tick far behind the high end creations of artisans like Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Rolex and Tissot.
Jean-Claude Biver, president of French luxury group LVMH, thinks Apple’s new smart watch looks like it could have been designed by a first year student and says it misses a certain something. “It looks a little cold, and lacks, for my taste, a bit of personality. This won’t create another crisis for the Swiss watch industry,” Biver was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal.
“From the design point of view you cannot say it’s a watch, more an iPhone for the wrist. People may travel with it, but it won’t replace the watch you wear to a party,” Alain Spinedi, chief executive of Montres Louis Erard.
Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek (pictured left) has told the media that he isn’t “nervous” about the competition Apple poses to his company’s sales figures, saying many of the features offered on the Apple Watch like the ‘digital crown’ button already exist on a number of Swiss watches.
Time will tell if these fringe phenomenon watches become mainstream.
Further reading: Top 10 smart watches you need to know