Jean-Claude Biver, the president of Tag Heuer and LVMH wider luxury watch division, was quite passionate with his defense of traditional watch-making at Baselworld, a 100-year old exhibition for Swiss timepieces. Biver was not critical of his consumer electronic rivals because according to him, what they sell is technology.
The Swiss watch industry is on a downturn with exports falling by 10% last year. The reason is not the shift towards smartwatches but the faltering global economy, overstocking of watches in Hong Kong and the crackdown on luxury gifts that include watches in China.
Analysts have predicted that smartwatches will impact on the Swiss watch-making industry but the sales of wearables have not taken off as quickly as expected and they are also nervously looking at their sales. This proves that consumer electronics are not a threat; in fact, they can even turnaround demand for the finely crafted timepieces.
When the first Apple watch was launched, it became the talk of the town. However, the expected sales did not push through; instead units shipped fell by 51.6% during the 3rd quarter of 2016. Even the wearable pioneers like Fitbit and Jawbone struggled with sales. It seemed that only people who were interested in sports considered the smartwatches.
People tend to be emotional with wristwatches. It is difficult to part away with the first watch received. You will not feel the same emotional attachment with a smartwatch because it is technology. Today’s generation of wristwatches have life cycles of 6 months to a year compared to the Swiss watch that can last for generations.
However, many young people do not wear wristwatches because they use their mobile phones to tell time. Smartwatches have taught the young that it is okay to wear a watch. Instead of being a threat, smartwatches are driving demand towards expensive mechanical wristwatches.
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