The age of the traditional Swiss watch that “just” tells time — regardless of wristband, face and a high price tag — may be winding down.
As CNET reports, global shipments of smartwatches were higher than those seen for Swiss watches in the fourth quarter of last year, tracing figures that were released last week by research firm Strategy Analytics. That’s a first for the wearable tech industry, with Apple, of course, a key impetus at the vanguard of wearable tech watches since April’s debut of the Apple Watch. In the meantime, said CNET, Swiss firms have not been jumping on the wearable tech bandwagon, seemingly bent on sticking to their netting. But with wearable tech outpacing traditional watches, it’s likely that consumers want their wrist accoutrements to do more than tell time.
So, the numbers: Swiss watch shipments were off 5 percent year over year; smartwatch shipments were up 316 percent year over year.
In a statement that accompanied the research findings, Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said: “The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches. The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away.”
As CNET noted in its report, the latest news hints at some fulfillment of the prophecy made by Apple Chief Designer Jony Ive roughly two years ago, wherein he reportedly said that traditional timepieces would be challenged by Apple’s pending introduction of its own watch.
Not all traditional watchmakers are standing idle. TAG Heuer, for one, has debuted its Connected Watch, yet headway has been scant, as it has just a 1 percent share of the market. Apple has 63 percent, and Samsung trails at 16 percent. In the meantime, total shipments of smartwatches are projected by Gartner to grow to 50 million units this year and then to 67 million units next year.