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Report: The Apple Watch is killing the Swiss watch industry

Report: The Apple Watch is killing the Swiss watch industry
[Photo: Luke Chesser/Unsplash]

It used to be that the most coveted wristwatch was one from a Swiss-made company. For more than a century, Swiss timepieces have been the pinnacle of status—and, as a result, the watches most popular with those in the market for a new timepiece. But that seems to be changing, and, if research firm Strategy Analytics’ latest report is accurate, Apple is finally killing the Swiss watch industry.

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That’s because Apple reportedly sold more Apple Watches in 2019 than watches sold by all of the Swiss watchmakers—including Swatch, Tissot, TAG Heuer, and others—combined. Matter of fact, Strategy Analytics said Apple Watch sales not only beat Swiss watch sales last year, but they blew them away.

According to Strategy Analytics, Apple shipped a total of 30.7 million Apple Watch units in 2019, while the entire Swiss watch industry only shipped a total of 21.1 million units worldwide last year. What’s more is that Apple Watch shipments grew an astounding 36% from the previous year, while Swiss watch shipments shrank 13%.

It’s important to note that Apple doesn’t break out Apple Watch sales numbers, so Strategy Analytics report is based on their own research. However, in 2019 Apple finally offered an Apple Watch at the sweet $199 price point (for the Apple Watch Series 3), so it’s reasonable to assume that’s one factor in why the Apple’s Watch numbers could have soared enough to beat the entire Swiss watch industry in 2019.

Steven Waltzer, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said the Apple Watch’s success was due to “a blend of attractive design, user-friendly tech, and sticky apps [that] make the Apple Watch wildly popular in North America, Western Europe, and Asia.” He also went on to add that “analog wristwatches remain popular among older consumers, but younger buyers are tipping toward smartwatches and computerized wristwear.”

But his final comment is the most dour for the Swiss watch industry:

Traditional Swiss watch makers, like Swatch and Tissot, are losing the smartwatch wars. Apple Watch is delivering a better product through deeper retail channels and appealing to younger consumers who increasingly want digital wristwear. The window for Swiss watch brands to make an impact in smartwatches is closing. Time may be running out for Swatch, Tissot, TAG Heuer, and others.

Is it time’s up for the Swiss watch industry? No—Swiss watch pieces will always be enjoyed by those who like classic timepieces. But the Swiss watch industry’s leadership in the watch field has certainly taken a secondhand position next to the Apple Watch.

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