Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Swiss watchmakers skeptical of smartwatches

Swiss manufactures are leery of Smartwatches and I can see why.

This week, Baselworld is happening. Baselworld is the largest convention of Swiss brands; showcasing their new watches for the year. A perfect analogy would be the CES Electronic show for gadgets and the Barcelona Mobile Congress for mobile phones. This is the conference for watch geeks.

The timing is also perfect segue-way into discussing Smartwatches and how the old industry sees this new trend. Is it a threat? I don't think so. Sure, young people don't wear watches any more but the fact remains, there will still be an audience for luxury goods.

This is an interested read in the New York Times today. The article is pretty much dead-on why Swiss companies are not embracing smart watches. This article is typical of the great writing that the New York Times is known for.

A few salient points:
1) The quartz revolution of the 70s. It was a fad that nearly killed the industry but they got back stronger than ever.
2) They got burned on previous ventures. E.G. Swatch and Microsoft
3) Luxury buyers want craftsmanship. They used exotic cars as an analogy and I believe this to be true. There will always be buyers for Porsches and Maseratis despite what is new from Toyota's hybrid tech.
4) It goes against the anti-thesis of the marketing - Swiss made, hand made, artisan craft. A lot of the allure of a Swiss watch is the provenance and lineage. People like the idea something is hand-crafted built; using technology that is 200 years old. Myself included.

In the luxury segments, the Swiss has a lion's share of the over $1,000 timepieces. There are no watches in my personal Swiss collection that is under $2500. People who spend that kind of money want craft and longevity. Electronic gadgets have a useable lifespan of 3 years before the next generation of cool things come and go. Watches last decades. They transcend generations. The watch pictured above is a "re-issue" of the Omega Seamaster 300 that Omega just announced at Baselworld 2014. The design goes back to the late 50s.


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