Apple Inc. might have created a new class of wearable technology with the Apple Watch but, veterans in the watchmaking industry think that Apple’s plan to make watches smarter is just a passing fad. Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of luxury watch brand, Tag Heuer, made a comment to that effect on Monday while speaking with CNBC. Jean-Claude’s position that the Apple Watch is a passing fad contrasts with earlier market views that smartwatches are taking the watchmaking industry by storm.
Apple released its smartwatch to much fanfare and market hype that practically deleted other smartwatches such as Fitbit and Gear from Samsung from the memory of the tech market. However, there are conflicting stories about how well the watch is faring in the market and Apple has not officially confirmed or denied rumors about sales number, average selling price, and buying trends for the device.
Apple Watch is a big rival to Swiss Watches
Biver noted that it is hard to take Apple seriously when the firm has been tight-lipped about its success in the watchmaking space. In his words, “How successful has Apple been? We don’t know. In the beginning, they were speaking about 10 to 20 million pieces, then sometimes we say they only sold 5 million.” However, he noted that Apple Watch might be a big problem for traditional watchmakers. He says, “to sell 5 million watches when you have not been a watchmaker is genius. It’s phenomenal.”
Biver noted that Apple could disrupt the watchmaking space in more ways than you can imagine. He says the Apple Watch is “certainly a big competition, huge! It will be a tsunami, for me. In the price segment, between say $200 and up to eventually $2,000.”
The fear of Apple is real considering how well Apple is able to merge luxury and tech together. For instance, the firm has a line of “Apple Watch Hermes” and it has another line of luxury 18-karat gold than can set you back $10,000 to $17,000.
Apple is an outsider to watchmaking
Apple is still an outsider in the watch making space and its technology couldn’t age gracefully like a traditional Swiss watch – at least, that’s what Biver thinks. He says, “there is no eternity, it means it will become obsolete and who wants to buy a $10,000 – $20,000 watch, that becomes obsolete after five or 10 years?” The jury is still out on whether people would love to shell out $20,000 on a watch that ages after years – the fact that a traditional Swiss watch can be passed down through generations sure gives them an edge over the Apple Watch.
Tag Heuer is set to release a $1,800 smartwatch running on Google’s Android OS next month. Biver noted that Swiss watchmakers were not competing with Apple, he says “I don’t say we want to compete with Apple because we’re not in the same business, but we can compete any technological product”. Nonetheless, he acknowledges the fact that Apple has forced innovation on watchmakers. He says, “you must respect tradition but on top of this you must innovate… If you don’t innovate and you just repeat, you are ending up in a museum and people want to be connected to innovation and creativity,”