Will TAG Heuer make the best smartwatches or the cheap smartwatch? The march of technology advances and nothing is immune to the onslaught of the microchip, here come Smart Watches, not even the mechanical movement of the classical watch built by craftsman will escape.
This year 2015 Apple announced entrance into the Smart Watches market and later it was announced by Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer at Baselworld Google and Intel had partnered with TAG Heuer to create a Smart Watch saying: “Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility”
But what does this mean for those of us not driven by technology who prefer – covert the technology of yesteryear and the craft that walks hand in hand with it? Can a partnership between TAG Heuer and Google et al really change the landscape of the prestige watch industry? And how smart does a watch need to be? Sure, through the centuries craftsmen have struggled to product more and more complex movements and complications adding more functionality and value to their pieces, but this was just as much a celebration of the craft as it was the offering of additional functionality.
TAG Heuer Smart Watch.
The success of Smart Watches over the traditional watch is by no means certain, many reasons exist for the death of the smartwatch before it even breathes life past its initial gulps of air.
How many smartwatches will the industry need to produce to enter these markets?
The humble or maybe not so humble watch has been with us for 500 years or more, surviving both world wars and tech wars. In short, the first reason the smart watch will fail is the wristwatch is a proven technology and a thing of beauty that speaks to the heart and souls as well as the head.
Secondly, what’s in a name? Well, more than you might think. Since the issuing watches to the soldiers in the trenches during WWI brands have evolved into sought after luxury brands because of the quality and history associated with them, suggesting good taste, old money, and heritage. You only need think of Rolex, Cartier, Harry Winston, and A. Lange & Sohne.
Thirdly, who cares about status symbols? You may not run around chasing down every item that holds status but it’s part of our society and affects us all to some degree or other. So even if you are not someone pining after the best of the best you can at least admit that these objet d’art items are an aspirational imperative that helps keep us moving. Rolex being an obvious example but many others exist in this space for differing reasons depending on your viewpoint. For example, Rolex may be seen as a status symbol for someone who likes to show off a little, the Omega could be seen as a status symbol for someone who considers themselves a little more subtle and refined, the Brietling could be the professional and most likely a pilot according to the cultural imperative.
Let’s not forget celebrity endorsements attracting consumers to a brand. There are countless celebrities endorsed brands all the time and let’s face it this is nothing more than a cash deal for them right. But there or more deeply ingrained endorsements that reside deep in our psyche and the most obvious I could mention would be Omega and James Bond the master spy, and the only spy I might add who has a reputation that precedes him.
My fourth argument is a historical one as these are examples of high-quality watches that have stood the test of time, spanning generations and gaining more and legitimacy and saleability year on year. These come with a history whether it’s the individual item used by a soldier in the Somme or a Navy Dive watch used by Decima Flottiglia MAS, or simply the associated history of the brand these timepieces are part of our collective history now, which can never be underestimated when linked with nostalgia and timeless beauty.
I have come to my fifth gripe against smart watches and I have a question. What’s the time?
It’s funny and I don’t know if you have experienced this but have you ever looked at your smartphone for the time when you are wearing a watch? Sounds daft but this is the modern world we live in and it’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just habit. It does, however, illustrate one thing…..we don’t necessarily wear a watch to tell the time do we? No, we wear the watch because we love them or the idea of them, perhaps it’s a gift, perhaps it reminds us of better times, it could be a different reason for everyone on the planet, from the Disney watch worn by a child to the Disney watch worn by an adult for that matter, we’re not wearing it for the time. It’s something more, it’s embedded deep in our consciousness where our hidden things live and it’s almost medieval in nature, it’s fashion, it’s memories, it’s personal, it’s mine! It’s a human thing…….
The Take Away.
No matter what the new device is based on surely the smartwatch with its super fast chip will be bogged down with functionalities that are never wanted or used as is the case with any computer-based gadgets. So common is this over stuffing of technology and functions the trade has its own term describing it as ‘phantom technology’. And just to compound my assertions here, I used the word gadget in my previous sentence which I feel it fitted well. But that just proves my point in my humble view because if you run a simple word search on ‘gadget’ you may find a result like this “A gadget is a small tool such as a machine that has a particular function but is often thought of as a novelty.” What is really standing out is the word novelty.
So you can see where I’m going with this right? I have 2 laptops and Smartphone and a Tablet and they all get used on a regular basis for different functions. I am sure if I really tried very hard I could reduce this down to 1 laptop, and a phone and still find myself in a constant cycle of recharging, carrying cables and USB adapters around for every eventuality. Why oh why would I want to add to this cycle and at the same time throw away hundreds of years history and dedication to excellence by replacing a classically crafted precision built timepiece with a gadget glued together in an Asian sweatshop?
Too Much Tech.
Put quite simply, I don’t like the idea and I don’t think the watch industry need worry about the coming storm….it will pass relatively quickly and not affect the true customer base. I am thinking of it like the pirating of Hollywood movies, no really stay with me here.
Hollywood complain about the pirating of movies over the internet and somehow come up with a figure that illustrates how much money they have lost due to piracy. Hmmmm, that sounds very odd to me for two reasons. Firstly, you can only lose money if you first had the money and subsequently had the money taken from you. In this case, they are not losing money, they just failed to make as much cash as they would like to. Secondly, the audience that’s downloading or pirating the movies is not the same audience who go to the cinema to have the full experience. If the illegal downloads did not exist the people watching the pirated movies would not go to the cinema, but simply wait until the movies came to the small screen.
The point is, there are two completely dissimilar audiences or in our case customer bases, that will rarely if at all meet in the middle. This means the smartwatch will only ever be a gadget or novelty for a small number of watch lovers, and a small market for the tech freaks who want the next best thing.
If I am wrong I will go out, buy a hat, and proceed to eat it!