In 2019, Apple’s smartwatch, the Apple Watch, will sell more than the entire Swiss watch industry. According to a recent study by Market Consulting Firm Analytics, Apple Watch sold 31m pieces worldwide last year, compared with 21m for all Swiss watch brands.
Analysts are divided on whether this means the Swiss watch industry will be in trouble. Some say the end of the Swiss watch industry is coming. But some point out that Swiss-certified mechanical watches still generate more revenue than the Apple Watch.
“The Apple Watch itself has become a status symbol and a strong competitor to mid-range Swiss watches,” Steven Waltzer, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in an interview. Apple’s huge customer base means that apple Watch can sell millions of dollars by converting only a small percentage of iPhone users into Apple Watch users. “
Apple Watch tracks users’ health and links to apps to get online faster in places like movie theaters or gyms. The Apple Watch has attracted a younger generation, and pointer-to electronic watches are popular among older groups, the Strategy Analytics study notes.
“People have embraced the Apple Watch as a solution that combines technology with fashion,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies, a market research firm. “
Mr. Milanese says Apple’s emphasis on health and fitness has made the Apple Watch different from the Swiss watch, which is marketed as a jewelry and fashion accessory.
“However, Apple’s health and fitness propositions are more attractive to users than fashion and glamour, and these two value propositions are what we’re after today,” she said. No one in the wearables market can find a better solution than Apple. “
The Apple Watch’s popularity has also benefited from a stronger ecosystem of iPhones, iPads and other Apple-branded products. Although Swiss watch companies also sell smartwatches, they run on the Android ecosystem.
“Apple has a consumer-electronics-based relationship with the vast majority of Apple Watch customers,” said Rishi Kaul, a media and consumer technology analyst at Omdia, a technology research services company. Kaur points out that smartwatches made by Swiss watch makers come with Android-based WearOS software, which could be attractive to Android phone users.
Still, analysts say that doesn’t mean the Swiss watch’s status as a luxury is over, even though it lags behind in the smartwatch competition.
“I don’t think it’s such a comparison,” said Vincent Thielke, a research analyst at Canalys, a market research firm. Shipments do not represent the whole situation. “
The average price of a Swiss watch ($1,000) is about twice that of the Apple Watch, and the Swiss watch industry outperformed the Apple Watch last year in terms of absolute revenue generated, Mr. Tilke said.
Selling alone doesn’t tell the whole story. The Apple Watch may need to be replaced more frequently than the Swiss Watch to upgrade its technology and extend battery life, all of which could boost Apple Watch sales, Tilke said. He added that the Apple Watch could also appeal to new users who have never bought a Swiss watch.
“The Apple Watch caters to a broader consumer base, including young users and electronics enthusiasts,” Tilke said. For these people, they choose smartwatches more for technical or health reasons than for favoring ‘timeless clocks’. “
A symbol of identity
Omdia analyst Coyle said it was safe to be a status as an identity symbol, given the swiss watch’s lavish pricing and the different dials and designs to choose from. If Apple wants to improve the uniqueness or status of the Apple Watch, the only way is to invest in a designer brand. “
Ramon Llamas, head of research at IDC, a market research firm, says Swiss watches symbolize “luxury, status and abundance”.
“Does the swiss watch’s overtaking by Apple Watch mean the end of the Swiss watch’s fortunes? I doubt it,” he said. There will still be interest and demand for Swiss watches, and in fact many young users are still eager to one day own a Swiss watch. Meanwhile, today’s smartwatches – yes, even the Apple Watch – will look out of date in just a few years. “