This week Apple is boosting the buzz around the iWatch. Switzerland is looking into this launch with a very close eye. The entire Swiss watch-making industry wonders what and how Apple is tackling the wearable market. When the Timepiece industry lost 2/3 of its employees after the “Quartz crisis” end of the 70’s, it is a nightmare that nobody wants to revive again.
The smart-watch segment is not new, but the speed in which several high-tech brands are moving forward now, let Swiss Watch-makers a little concerned. For the moment, Samsung, Peeble, Motorola and others Nike or Suunto, never succeeded to build a convenient watch. All of them were just an electronic device you would use on your wrist during certain occasions in certain contexts. Now, all eyes are turned to Apple. Will they succeed where everybody failed?
The Apple Watch will not replace your beautiful watch
Why do we wear a wrist-watch? Of course the obvious answer is: “to know what time is it”. But in this case, if the only motivation to wear a wrist-watch was to see time, probably we would be missing a big percentage of people. The online hightech website lifehacker.com did an online survey, asking people if they still wear a wrist-watch. Over a sample of 8’000 people, 62% of them answered: all the time. 24% answered that they use their
Phones to see time and 15% declared they use wrist-watches only when they dress-up.
These results are interesting. The first one, shows that many people (among a digital audience) is still wearing a wrist watch. Very often because it is easier to check the wrist rather than pulling the phone from your pocket. And if you have no batteries left on your phone, you have at least the time and sometimes the date on your wrist.
Nevertheless almost a quarter of people use their mobile phone. And this figure increased year by year, especially with the smartphone’s democratization. According to another online survey this time done by mashable.com, a smartphone user checks his phone up to 250 times during the day. This is 15 times in one hour (more than your wrist watch). People check their emails, news, social networks, weather forecast, transport timetables, etc. you are fine to forget wearing deodorant during that day but you would dye 3 hours without your smartphone. Modern times.
Last but not least, 14% would wear a watch when they dress-up. Indeed watches are often used as jewelry. It will finish your formal look with a touch of elegance. Nobody would attend to a gala diner with a Peeble watch on the wrist, unless you work at Peeble and it is a gala diner at Peeble ;-). You would probably wear your nice elegant non-digital watch. There is also a matter of social status in which your wrist-watch will be the ambassador. This is true for everybody and especially men. When you graduates from university, your grand-parents will not offer you a smart-watch to celebrate that.
When you finally made it with your start-up and that you became a respectful businessman, you will not buy to yourself a smart-watch. When you get married or you have your first baby born, you will not mark that day on the back of a smart-watch. For all these reasons and many others, brands like Omega, Rolex, Tag Heuer or Longines will last for ever. Of course we are talking here about watches above $6’000.
Would you replace your Digital and/or quartz watch that costed you less than $1’000 for a iWatch? Probably.
The Apple Watch might make people love wearing a wrist-watch again
Some CEOs of most reputable companies in the Swiss Watch-making industry might see the iWatch as a good thing. In deed, remember that lifehacker.com discovery that 24% of people asked would not wear a wrist-watch? Well, what if the iWatch would bring time back to wrists? All those people who would not care wearing a wrist-watch, would then get used to wear one. And potentially, would buy a proper wrist-watch for special occasions, sports or for work afterwards. In a way, the iWatch could recruit people or to rescue people from bare wrists. Is there any parallel to make between the Quartz revolution and the smart-watches? Not really. The first one was and still is a watch-maker story. The second one is a story about high-tech. The foundation is different and the main actors of these 2 segments are completely different.
Watch out then.
Info sourced at lifehacker.com, mashable, the New York times and wikipedia. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.