Six years after the Apple Watch first hit the market, things are very different. With the advantage of looking back, some traditional watchmakers are clear on their role. And the CEO of Patek Philippe is one of them, because claims it can’t compete with the Apple Watch. A few statements that come months before we officially saw the Apple Watch Series 7.
Apple Watch: “It’s another way of making watches”
Thierry Stern sat down for an interview (via Felix palazuelos) with the well-known Hodinkee watch website last month. They talked about the Nautilus there, the brand’s first steel wristwatch released in 1976. But they also had time to discuss connected watches. And, of course, the Apple Watch.
The leader of Patek Philippe thus responds about smartwatches and his rejection of launch a model under your brand:
It is not our domain. Can you imagine it? Am I going to fight with Apple, which has the same R&D budget as me, but with five more zeros at the end? I can’t compete with that. It’s another way to make watches
We’ve always been dedicated to mechanical watches, that’s what we know and love. Working on something electronic can be fun, but it’s none of my business. You have to give it to the professional, and I am not a professional in this type of technology.
Of course, this is a position that contrasts with that of other traditional manufacturers. Swatch and the TAG Heuer group have launched their own proposals for smart and connected watches. Now it is worth asking what impact the Apple Watch has had on the Swiss watch industry.
A crumbling mid and low range in Swiss industry
Enough years have passed now to take a look at the sales figures for Swiss watches. The Swiss Federation of the Watch Industry publishes fairly detailed annual sales reports. In them we can see numbers that specify the value and units of clocks for certain ranges.
We see here how to watch less than 200 and between 200 and 500 Swiss francs (around 180 and 450 dollars) are down sharply in sales. As units sold from higher ranges increase.
In this graph you can see something similar in appearance, although if we look we will see a more pronounced drop in the lower range, double in the next one and for the first time another rather pronounced of the order of 500-3000 francs. Finally, another detail:
- In 2018, 2.3% fewer watches were sold and revenue increased 6.1%.
- In 2019, 13.1% fewer watches were sold and revenue increased 2.6%.
The 2020 data is dire, for obvious reasons, but it shows a similar trend: entry-level and mid-range watch sales bleed to death, while the high end and luxury increase. This is the only way to explain that fewer units are sold and more income is generated.
Although we cannot say with complete certainty, it is entirely possible that Apple Watch plays a role in this change. Segment clothing The number of the company, which includes the Apple Watch and AirPods, reached the size of a Fortune 140 company last year. And the most impacted price ranges in the Swiss industry correspond to the various models. Apple Watch.