I have approached this subject in the past asking how the luxury watch market is surviving the digital age and it seems the Luxury Watchmakers can compete against the Apple Smartwatch in a number of ways, like entering the same `Smart` market, or broadening their entry level luxury market.
Some, like Movado, Montblanc, and TAG Heuer, have decided if you can not beat then, join them, and got into bed with Google’s Android Wear software to create fully fledged smartwatches to compete directly in the market. Other competitors have taken the what could be seen as a half-measure, or a sensible compromise depending on your point of view, to produce hybrid devices as with like Fossil and Citizen, and Casio who add smart features to an otherwise traditional-looking watches.
This is a product that I like to call Augmented technology.
It`s interesting to see the somewhat conservative Swiss watch industry not only sit up and take notice but to actively make inroads into the smartwatch marketplace without the need to suffer more losses and see a repeat of the Quartz crisis of the 1970s. From the looks of it, it could be that the Swiss watch industry has made the right choice at the right time.
The market for `gadget watches` has not exploded as previously expected, Apple sold an estimated 22 million smartwatches which seems like a huge number but a number that’s only half that predicted by Wall Street. That being said, it does represent a fairly big share of the luxury market, which is slowly and steadily gaining momentum so we can expect to see further gains in the market.
Now I see three distinct markets emerging from the flames, Classic mechanical Swiss luxury watches, Hybrid watches augmenting technology, and full blown Smartwatches running Android or Apple OS.
The Luxury Swiss watch will always have a place because it’s part of our combined history as human beings with a love of art, design, craft and precision. The Smartwatch will find a marketplace with the young tech savvy and the outdoorsy types wanting a million and one functions on their wrist, but essentially, this is never going to be someone who thinks in terms of wearing a watch, this is more wearable technology for particular situations.
The Hybrid on the other hand maybe the most interesting of the three markets because it could potentially attract customers from the other two markets because the Hybrid meets so many of a watch enthusiasts needs. As the Hybrids embed smart functions under the skin of a classic watch, it may not have all the functions of a Smartwatch, but the limited tasks like counting steps, relaying phone alerts gives the customer the best of both worlds.
Pros vs Cons
Classic Mechanical Watch
The classic watch will always be sort after and hold their value.
Can be handed down through the generations.
Always admired by watch enthusiasts.
The classic watch design is kept intact.
Battery will last longer or in the case of Solar power, never runs down.
Accuracy, performance, and design.
Accurate with manly functions.
Heavy battery use.
Built in obsolescence. (Updated every six months)
Not to be handed down in the family.
No history/story behind the product.
The Swiss watch market may take a hit but it`s going to be short lived and also run in parallel with the Smart and Hybrid markets that will interconnect, but never fully obscure either one or the other. These markets are far too different, appealing to different customers with very difference needs and ideas about horology.
Can you imagine a twenty-something buying a $10000 Rolex or and Android Smartwatch for $300? I think it’s plain to see these markets are not crossing over. The twenty-year-old man will buy a Smartwatch for $300 and live his life, gain knowledge and wisdom (hopefully) all the time refining his own personality and those little things he grows to appreciate. Then, if he is lucky and he’s made something of a career, these a possibility he`ll fork out that $10000 for a Rolex in his 40s.
And somewhere between his twenties and forties, there’s a distinct possibility he will buy a couple of Hybrid watches too.
For more information about where to look for your favorite watch brand why not read my watch store reviews to get a better idea where to look?
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