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an ice age is approaching for Swiss watchmakers

The consequences of Monday’s Apple Watch presentation have been felt just a few hours after it ended. We were informed yesterday by Bloomberg that the co-inventor of the Swatch watch in the 1980s , Elmar Mock, has issued a warning to the Swiss watch industry. According to the engineer, the Apple Watch could mean an “ice age” for the watch business in the Alpine country.

This is not the first time someone has made dire predictions for this industry. The words that Jony Ive supposedly said to his team still resonate: “The Apple Watch will put Switzerland on the spot. Of course, coming from an executive of the Californian company it is not surprising. But in Mock’s case, it’s someone very deep in the industry, with a consulting agency specializing in watch engineering and many years of experience behind him.

The Apple Watch will be a very dangerous “success”

an ice age is approaching for Swiss watchmakers
an ice age is approaching for Swiss watchmakers

Mock has not hesitated to say that the Apple Watch will be a success:

The vast majority of watches sold in the world every year are on average less than five dollars. According to the Swiss watch industry federation , about 1.2 billion watches are produced each year . Of these, 99% come from these very cheap quartz watches.

Although the top watch companies located in Switzerland barely sell the remaining 1%, they accumulate a large part of the profits. This is because the high unit price of each Swiss watch more than compensates for the relatively small number of units sold.

Swiss watch companies specialize in selling watches ranging in price from $300 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Taking into account the final prices of the Apple Watch, Mock stated that the ones that are really in danger are the ones between 465 euros and 930 euros . Just the range in which the Apple Watch Sport and the steel Apple Watch are found.

Is Switzerland the new Finland?

Last year the Prime Minister of Finland made a statement in which he blamed Apple directly for his country’s economic decline:

The parallels with the situation in the Swiss watch industry are curious. The country of the Alps experienced a first, strong warning during the 1970s and 1980s , in which very cheap, precise and quartz watches flooded the market. Up to 60,000 highly skilled jobs were lost during those years. But over time, watchmakers recovered by focusing on high-end mechanical watches.

The fall of Nokia, one of the old glories of mobile technology in the pre-iPhone era, is well known. To avoid repeating the quartz crisis and not follow the example of the Finnish company, top Swiss watchmakers have ended up announcing plans to design and market a smart watch of their own.

The Apple Watch will generate greater dynamism in an industry that is little given to change
Por qué el Apple Watch también beneficiará a los fabricantes de relojes suizos.

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At first and for years, CEOs like the Swatch group itself disdained smart watches as mere toys. But after the introduction of the Apple Watch in September 2014, they have seen the light. Swatch already has a smartwatch to compete with the Apple watch among its plans.

They’re not the only ones. Since TAG Heuer announced at the end of last year that they would also make a move with a smart clock of their own. The Apple watch may not be able to compete with the more expensive models from the best watchmakers. But it will certainly introduce a dynamism into the entry level (300-1,000 dollars) that has not been seen for decades .

At Apple

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