Thus far the smartwatch market has somewhat failed to gain much traction, despite a number of big name manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei, Google and LG unveiling models. However, March saw the launch of Apple’s version and leaves us wondering if they can push the market onwards in the way they seem to do so well? Some claim that Apple reinvented music with the iPod and computing with the iPhone, so we wonder if they can do the same with the wristwatch to make it the new must-have accessory?
At this years Baselworld (the world’s biggest fair of all things horological) LVMH Group’s (which includes TAG Heuer and Hublot) watch division’s president Biver made a bold statement: “We cannot ignore the trend of the smartwatch.” Rather than him waving the white flag of defeat, instead his aim; to rally the Swiss watch industry’s counteroffensive against the smartwatch’s invasion into its territory.
Day one of Baselworld saw Biver hold a press conference to announce a new partnership between TAG Heuer, Google and Intel. The result to be a Swiss version of the smartwatch, an Android Wear timepiece powered by Intel technology. He told American business magazine Forbes, “they are more technology-oriented. We are, of course, much more high-end or luxury-orientated.”
Change is of course inevitable but Biver insists that TAG Heuer will never give up its DNA as a luxury brand “because smartwatches are somehow due to become obsolete–contrary to the traditional mechanical watch of our ranges, which are ‘eternal,’ … Yes, in 100 or in 1,000 years a traditional mechanical watch will still be repairable and will still work!”
Breitling too showed Baselworld that they were not one to be left behind. The B55 Connected concept is due to be launched at the end of the year, but CEO, Jean-Paul Girardin was quoted “the next steps will be dictated by the actual needs of our users and the attractiveness of new technologies. We do not aim to produce connected instruments just for the sake of following a trend.”
Bulgari too are hot on the case, with CEO Jean-Christophe Babin saying his brand’s new concept piece is “not to be confused with a smartwatch.” The Diagono Magnesium is “first and foremost a manufactured mechanical luxury Swiss watch”–it just happens to contain an NFC microchip that can connect with a smartphone to lock or unlock an ultrasecure cloud app.
Love it or hate it, the smartwatch is here to stay, for the time being at least. So does that mean the complete extinction of the traditional wrist watch? Will the mechanical and Quartz watches that we’ve come to know so well, be a distant memory? Well we think not! The Swiss Watch industry is far from flailing, sales of wrist watches in the UK are very much up on last year. In fact 10% more gents watches were sold this year compared with the same period last year and in fact the higher end price bracket has seen the biggest increase, with consumers spending £1000+ on a watch up by 14% on last year.
(Source: WatchPro.com, April 2015.)
Tradition and skill set is very much still at the forefront of those buying for longevity, despite increase in exposure and sales to toward the smartwatch. Apple is keeping quiet about official sales figures for the Apple Watch, but independent researchers are offering their own estimates. Ming-Chi Kuo, (an analyst with as a strong a track record) estimates that the Apple Watch will clock over 2.3 million units in global pre-orders between March and May 2015.
(Source: Forbes.com, April 2015.)
We think it’s fair to say that Apple‘s smartwatch will likely define this current decade with their innovative design, it may hint at watch designs evolution but surely does not justify the only watch to take a seat in this hall of fame? We envisage Chapter 12 of 13 by W. T. Author will no doubt see a nod to this landmark occasion, as we continue to reflect on achievements and key design innovations from every decade of the wristwatch’s existence, but we assure you this is just one step … the wrist watch as we know it, has not run out of time to grace our wrists, and will never for all eternity … in our humble opinion anyway!
See our evolution thus far … in Chapters 1 & 2 available now at: www.wtauthor.com
Chapter 3: Coming Autumn 2015 …