Apple Watch ready to exceed the sales volume of Swiss watches

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Apple Watch ready to exceed the sales volume of Swiss watches

The success of the Apple Watch has led to a movement among the major Swiss watch brands: the creation of luxury smartwatches, which are not as successful as the Apple watch.

Tim Cook announced in September 2017 that the Apple Watch had become "the N°1 watch" and two years later, an article in the New York Times looks at the impact it - and the watches connected in the broad sense - has had on the traditional Swiss watch industry.

Let's start with the numbers. According to Strategy Analytics, 22.5 million Apple Watches were sold in 2018, compared to 23.7 million watches exported by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (including 53% of sales in Asia alone). Experts estimate that 2019 will most likely be the first year that Apple will exceed the number of watches sold by the Swiss industry in volume.

The market for traditional watches has not changed; sales have stagnated for several years. And consumer interest in luxury smartwatches, launched by TAG Heuer, Louis Vuitton and Montblanc, is declining, according to The Digital Luxury Group, a Geneva-based marketing research group. Google searches by Internet users regarding interest in smartwatches exploded shortly after the release of Apple Watch, only to fall back in 2018.

The Swiss watch industry, which is not completely able to take the turn of connected watches, remains mixed on the subject. According to Brian Duffy, Managing Director of the Watches of Switzerland group, which operates 125 stores in Great Britain and 21 in the United States, smartwatches have nevertheless had a positive impact on sales of traditional watches.

"By nature, they are peripheral to the luxury market," he told the New York Times. According to one of their surveys, only 1% of customers surveyed believe "that a smart watch can replace a traditional watch". A figure that makes the group's CEO think, considering that luxury and rapid obsolescence do not necessarily go hand in hand: "You want to buy luxury items forever, but with a smart watch, you buy a technology that has an expiry date".

For Benedicte Soteras of Digital Luxury Group, smartwatches and traditional watches are a bit like e-books and paper, two distinct categories that each have their own audience. Analyst Reginald Brack believes that smartwatches can even inspire consumers to eventually buy a traditional watch:"[...] When people wear a time indicator on their wrists, they want something that expresses who they are. This is very reassuring for watchmaking. »