Sorry Jony Ive, Switzerland Isn’t Screwed…Yet
Last summer I wrote a post on the dangers that smart watches could pose to the Swiss watch industry. It generated a ton of discussion on social media and within the industry, and ultimately even led to my consulting with a high end watch brand on a smart watch product line. At the time, the uses and capabilities of wearables had not been defined and thinking was very much hypothetical. The thesis was basically that a company as influential and as innovative as Apple could literally kill the luxury watch market overnight with a revolutionary product. If there were a smart watch that everyone truly had to have, the mechanical watch would face an immediate extinction level event.
However, fortunately for Switzerland and unfortunately for anyone who loves revolutionary products, the uses and capabilities of wearables still remain largely undefined. Whatever you think of the Apple Watch, it seems clear at this point that it will be far from a must-have device. Without a use case so compelling that one wouldn’t think of leaving the house without it (think: all payments and identification only carried on a watch), smart watches will remain niche products — more fashion statement than productivity enhancer.
Given that Apple took their best swing and still fell far short of that mark, it seems safe to say that smart watches are not the way of the future. Instead the seemed destined to be a cool accessory with some interesting, specific use cases. So while I undoubtedly will buy one the day it’s released as I do most gadgets, the luxury watch industry can breathe a sigh of relief that I won’t hesitate to leave it in the drawer most days in favor of a beautiful mechanical watch.