Lately I have been coming across a range of opinions and articles on the smart watch and its future. While some believe it to be the "next big thing" that will be the end of the classic Swiss watch, others label it an impractical fad. I think it is fair to say that besides the novelty, there may be a decent amount of utility in a smart watch. Certainly the primary purpose of a watch is to tell the time. But we have seen with the advent of the smart phone that all the other functionality and features, besides the core function, soon became the new normal. Similarly for smart watches, social media, texting, maps, camera, etc., could all be features that change what consumers expect a watch to do. So is the smart watch going to devour the market share of the traditional, high-end Swiss watch? There are three reasons I think that luxury watch makers have a good chance to hold their own.
1. Practicality: The smart watch does have potential to be a useful little gadget. But as we have seen in reviews, like that of the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch, this product category still has a long way to go before it proves to be practical enough. Everything from screen size, battery life, to alerts and apps are challenges at present and the advantages over simply using a smart phone are not established yet.
2. Target Customer: Another aspect that comes to mind when comparing smart watches to Swiss watches is the clientele that is being targeted. Typically a customer buying a luxury watch is making a statement about wealth and style. I think that an expensive Swiss watch is more aligned with jewelry as a product, rather than a gadget. While smart watches may capture the imagination of a tech savvy customer base, there is still a market for old fashioned luxury.
3. Overlap: Even if the smart watch is able to break into the high end watch market, who's to say that the Swiss watch cannot coexist with it? For a collector, there could be room for both in the collection and there could even be a hybrid Smart Swiss watch for those that want both beauty and technology.