As Apple Watch gears up for a mammoth media push and begins taking preorders this week, we feel it is a good time to talk about smartwatches and the way they may or may not impact traditional watchmaking.
In fact, this very subject was a hot topic at the recent BaselWorld 2015, where some traditional watch brands announced their takes on staying connected. It is interesting to note that there is a vast difference between technology-oriented smartwatches from brands such as Apple, Samsung and Sony, and smartwatches (that are generally connected and offer activity modes) from traditional watch brands. And while some may think the two factions are at war, that is not the case.
Some pessimists say the smartwatch may even spell the doom of the traditional watch. Positive thinkers believe the two factions can co-exist and that the new realm of smartwatches may just be what the traditional watchmakers need to light a proverbial fire under them.
Watch pundits liken the coming of the technological smartwatch to the influx of quartz technology that forever changed the watch industry in the late 1970s and early portion of the 1980s. During that time, Swiss watch brands refused to embrace quartz technology, believing that no one would want a battery-powered watch. Their denial almost led to the downfall of the industry—with many brands going out of business and others needing to re-invent themselves. It was years before the Swiss could introduce their own quartz watches and regain their strength in the market.
“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” That old saying has perhaps never been as true as with the coming of smartwatches and savvy technologically oriented watch brands are not going to sit idly by. Some have already begun working with technology giants to integrate interactive technology into their watches, their watchstraps and more.
In fact, Sylvie Ritter, managing director of BaselWorld, said during the opening press conference of the fair, “Swiss timepieces and smartwatches are two fundamentally different worlds. One is about expertise, emotion and enduring appeal. The other focuses on the technological aspects … two very different worlds, then, but also two approaches that can cohabit.”
So, for those iPhone lovers with apps galore, get on the waiting list for the Apple Watch – it will help you stay connected. It may also even lure other connected-lovers to buy their first watch. In the end, though, we believe that those who love a good timepiece on their wrist will always be looking for the traditional timepiece.
Stay tuned for more on this fast-moving story.