Apple Watch is not a watch

Ask the buyers of the Apple Watch on the reason why they bought it. How many people bought it primarily to tell time? The answer you will get will probably be close to zero.

Clearly, the Apple Watch is not a watch. Despite this, I’m not saying that the Apple Watch is not good. In fact, the Apple Watch brings to the table a lot of features which may be useful for your daily life.

It can be said that the Apple Watch is a portable media device with a watch display as its main background. As with other Apple products, the Apple Watch has so many varied functions such as calling, messaging, fitness tracking, location services and GPS positioning, and music controls, among others. After considering the features, you realize that the watch portion of the device is simply the standby display.

The Apple Watch is firstly an extension and a miniature version of the iPhone, and secondly a display which shows the time. 

Where does the Apple Watch fit?

Apple has done well in selling the Apple Watch to: 1) existing Apple users who do not wear a watch/fitness tracker; 2) fitness and exercise buffs, and 3) those who are curious simply because it’s an Apple.

Having said the above, the Apple Watch has no dramatic effect on the mechanical and luxury watch industry. Six years into its life, clearly it will not have the same effect as Quartz when it threatened the Swiss watch industry in 1970s. Many analysts have put out figures showing that the Apple Watch has “outsold” the major watch players. What these analysts failed to consider is that the Apple Watch does not fully fall in the category as a “watch”. The Apple Watch has eaten some of the market for watches and some of the market for wearables. As a product, it could be seen as an in-between. Really, the biggest impact of the Apple Watch is more on the digital/electronic wearables sphere. Apple has brilliantly created a demand for a portable device disguised as a watch.

Image from Bloomberg.

Watch industry remains strong

With Apple taking a different market, the Swiss watch industry can breathe better now. Swiss watch sales have been strong and solid in the past few years. 

People who collect and appreciate timepieces know that the watches are not only instruments in telling time, but are also artworks. Timepieces stand the test of time and are usually passed down from generation to generation. The Apple Watch is not an artwork which you can collect and pass down. Further the Apple Watch falls into the same trap like other consumer electronics as it will be replaced by a newer model sooner than later.

The victory of the Apple Watch as an electronic device is also its downfall as a timepiece. While the Apple Watch may be functional as an electronic device, it will never outlast your ever reliable watch.

Dr. Yong Larrazabal, President of CebuDoc Group of Hospitals, wears an Apple Watch on his right wrist and a Rolex Day-Date on his left wrist. Image from Dr. Larrazabal’s Instagram @yonglarrazabal

Apple Watch in the Future

The Apple Watch has found a purpose: an additional personal accessory which Apple will market to the people. Apple has done a great job with it by incorporating key features such as the ECG and the SOS functions. In this regard the Apple Watch has revolutionized the wearables industry as it has slowly made people wear an additional electronic device. In fact, there is an increasing population within the watch collecting community who wears the Apple Watch on one wrist and a timepiece of their choice on the other. The Apple watch has slowly found itself co-existing well with traditional watches.

But as to whether Apple will be able to convert people to dump their Seikos, Omegas, Rolexes, and Pateks, it just won’t happen en masse. Regardless of what functions they add to the Apple Watch, it will never replace a proper timepiece.