Swiss Watch Manufacturers Slowly Taken Over by Smartwatch Industry
Longstanding Swiss watch manufacturers, such as Rolex, Tag Heuer, and Omega, are only now starting to feel the full effects of the birth of the smartwatch. In the last quarter of 2014, smartwatches sold around 1.9 million units, compared to 8.3 million Swiss-made watches. However, in the last quarter of 2015, smartwatch sales jumped to a whopping 8.1 million units, with Swiss-made watches dropping substantially to 7.9 million units.
Neil Mawston, an executive director at Strategy Analytics, spoke to Forbes concerning the recent news. "The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches," he said. "The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away. Swiss brands, like Tag Heuer, accounted for a tiny one percent of all smartwatches shipped globally during Q4 2015, and they are a long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smartwatch category."
However, the Swiss watch industry isn’t taking this setback lying down. Tag Heuer have recently released their own version of a smartwatch named the Connected. With this, Tag Heuer hopes their smartwatch will cater to the new crowd whilst still maintaining their reputation as incredible and innovative watchmakers, something that chief executive of Tag Heuer, Jean-Claude Biver, is ambitious to preserve. "The Connected watch is the best promotional tool for the mechanical watch…in three years I believe the success [of the TAG Heuer Connected] will be much bigger than today because the wearable has legs," he said. "You want to be linked to success; you don’t want to be linked to a sleeping brand."
Furthermore, watch fairs like Baselworld are a constant reminder to the world regarding the advancements and highlights that the Swiss watch industry is capable of. Held in Switzerland every year, this review of the event sums up what one can expect at Baselworld, whether they are watch enthusiasts or not.
With the heavy hitter of the smartwatch industry – the Apple Watch – releasing a brand new version that is expected sometime this year (likely called Apple Watch 2), the Swiss watch industry should hope their quality and brand status can still keep them in the game. While no Bulgarian company has announced plans for a smartwatch just yet, a smartphone was recently released by PC company Pravetz, so the idea isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
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