Friday Chronicle #13: Everybody is launching a smartwatch, so it is not cool anymore!

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Since Apple announced its Apple Watch, there was an acceleration in the smartwatches market. While Samsung, Peeble and Motorola were driving the way, there was little incidence in terms of watch-making trends. Since Apple brought to live its project, all watch brands are going crazy about the theme of digital watches. During the SIHH and soon at BASELWORLD, we will see dozens of brands launching their smartwatch. From Montblanc, to Kenneth Cole, Frédéric Constant, Tag Heuer, Swatch or Vector… all launching their connected watch. Well it is not that cool anymore.

Apple Watch, the hurricaine in the tech world

In the world where wearables are multiplying like flies, is a smartwatch still something cool to do? My feeling is that Apple brought a certain doubt in the minds of watchmakers in terms of competition and success. Based on their reputation in how they enter the market place (remember their mobile phone strategy?) several brands think they need to react to a potential pressure from the IT company.

Apple-watches

Apple brought strong signs in terms of conviction and determination. First they have hired people from the luxury and watch industry. Then, they have proved their skills to put together cutting edge technology. Final but not least, they have developed over the years a very strong and sustainable relationship with customers that became brand fans and some of them Apple-obsessed.

Apple Watch, it is actually a watch!

Apple analyses the situation of the watch industry as well as the context of the wearable devices.

Apple-watch-full-range

By tackling the “watch problem” they know 2 things: there is only one place for a watch on someone’s wrist and they need to produce a real watch if they want to sell watches. So all the arguments behind the famous “digital crown”, the bracelets, the sapphire glass, the clasp, etc… Brings the product into a very specific field of watchmaking.

There is also a third important point for Apple. The 2015 Apple watch is the V1. Imagine what will be the V4? If we take the iPhone evolution, it means that in less than 10 years, we went from the iPhone 1 to an iPhone 6 and 6Plus. They are the 9th version of the iPhone. We can do things with the iPhone 6 that nobody would have imagined back in 2007 (launch of the iPhone1).

Why Smartwatches are not cool anymore?

With so many brands launching their smartwatch, we have a certain feeling of “deja vu”. Some of these brands are launching a smartwatch to look cool, others to look young and some of them to be visible in the press. We are still missing a lot of “meaning” in this products.

The main purpose of a watch is to give time. Everything else is “extra”. Naturally, some watches are true state of art and others more a way to deliver a simple service: display time. In many ways, our smartphones are delivering many similar functionalities:

  • Time
  • Day and Date
  • GMT
  • Summer time / Winter time
  • Alarm

If we get into Mobile Apps, then the possibilities are endless. That’s why Apple decided to add Apps on its Apple Watch. Somehow they are probably doing the right thing. I suppose that in certain countries, more than in others, people will be a little resistant to have a wearable device that will keep you constantly connected to the web and might vibrate on your wrist every time you get a notification. And the more the internet population is growing, the biggest is the opportunity for tech companies to grow. By end of 2014, the total world population crossed the bar of 7 Billion people. 7’182’416’565 people are today living in our planet and 42% of them have a regular connection to the internet. This means over 3 Billion people in 2014 connect to the web versus only 400 million in 2000 (source: internetworldstats.com). If we take North America, almost 90% of the total population has internet. So this means internet is everywhere: in your car, in your fridge, in your phone, TV set, even in your running shoes. Should you connect your watch as well? There are definitely pros and cons.

Who cares about confidentiality nowadays?

Another interesting topic is about confidentiality. It is amazing to see how easy people can trust any app they might download into their smart-objects, no matter if it is a TV set, a phone or now a watch. We deliver a strong amount of personal data everyday through these clever devices and almost no one wonder where their data is hosted, who access the data or even if they sell it. When the NSA scandal came, people were shocked to hear that apps like WhatsApp were under listening. What would you expect? So not sure you are consciously happy with a all-time connected tracker.

The big question for me is about the true motivation of the watch industry to launch a connected watch. Would watch manufacturers be launching such products if the IT industry would not have launched theirs? Is it really a need and a natural technological evolution? Not that sure. When discussing with some brands who are launching their connected watch this year, most of them do not really have a long-term strategy. Basically it is the hottest topic of this Spring, so if you want to be trendy, you need a smartwatch. The difference between brands looking for trends and brands looking for longterm developments? The trendy ones might not be around in 50 years time. Let’s meet in 2064 and see. Same time, same place.

 

LA

 

smart-watches-review
Info sourced at SIHH and Pre-Baselworld communication releases, World Internet stats and Wikipedia. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.

Sebastien Eich

Sebastien Eich is passionate about Swiss watch-making and throughout the years he gathered a tremendous amount of knowledge about the beautiful art of creating a watch. Based in Switzerland, the mother land of watch-making, he has exclusive access to Brands and events. He shares all of it here for the great pleasure of sharing.