Numbers Don’t Lie
According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, Apple sold 31 million units last year compared to 21 million units from the entire Swiss watch industry.
On the face, the difference in units is overwhelming but experts are quick to mention that the Swiss watch industry still leads in revenue. Exact numbers are not known, but estimates indicate that the Swiss watch industry is making more than twice the revenue of Apple watches. Apple has yet to close the gap created by high-end luxury brands such as Rolex, Cartier, Patek Philippe, and Omega.
Rise of Tech
In an ever more interconnected digital world, wearable tech has taken off. Apple Watch sales have increased by 36% in just one year. Unsurprisingly, the strongest growth is with the younger demographics.
Apple’s strong brand identity and ecosystem have made many of their product's status quo. This is troubling news for the luxury watch industry which relies heavily on its high-status identity. This shift indicates that there are fewer people who can and will appreciate a watch for its intricacy and craftsmanship over wearables with far more tech functionality.
This begs the question, is it inevitable for the traditional watch to become obsolete?
The Death of Swiss Watches
It is fairly clear that with the aging demographic, the Swiss watch industry is shrinking. However, it would be premature to announce the death of Swiss watches.
Traditional watchmakers have faced similar challenges in the past with innovations like the quartz movement which eliminated the need to wind a watch. Again, when digital watches arose with more convenience and functionality.
The market for Swiss watches will certainly shrink as low to mid-range watches are replaced by smartwatches. Nevertheless, Swiss watches will likely survive and still be popular with those that want the aspirational symbol of opulence.