The new Apple Watch (Photo credits: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Switzerland is not in trouble

The watch purist in me struggles with my inner geek when i see a smart watch.

Before you misunderstand , I’m not discounting the purity of mechanical horology.

The new features in the Apple Watch, such as Apple Pay and life tracking, are amazing. That’s without question. But these features can never replace the timeless elegance of a traditional watch. There will always be a place and a time for the IWCs, Audemars Piguets, Omegas and Jaeger-LeCoultres of the world. These are not just watches, but timepieces.

Rather, the Apple Watch / and other related Android Wear products are in direct competition with

  1. Mid-range priced wristwatches
  2. Current fitness trackers — the Jawbone, the Fitbit, and the Nike Fuelband.

However, I do see an advantage that the current fitness trackers in the market have — and that’s battery life. So far, Apple has been quiet about the battery life of the Apple Watch, and tech pundits have been guessing that it should last for a day with intensive usage.

In fact, these watches are specifically targeting

  1. Folks who don’t care for a wristwatch & use their phone to check the time. That’s the new audience that Apple needs to target (& revive) if they want to be the first trillion dollar company today.
  2. Current consumers who are interested in life-tracking, which also explains Apple’s new HealthKit platform. After all, the health industry in the US alone is estimated to be valued at $2.7 trillion.

Commendably, the customisation that the Apple Watch offers has been the most comprehensive (& impressive) line-up that no other smart watch in the market has offered. While I can definitely see myself using a Apple Watch at the gym or even for casual, day-to-day use, I doubt that I’ll be wearing that to a black-tie or at formal business functions.

But back to the main point — if the hope is that smart watches could entirely replace a long-standing tradition dedicated to timekeeping and art , that would be a very high bar to cross.

“Ultimately you are talking about a $349 watch that will have to be constantly upgraded as the technology gets outdated. This timepiece has a shelf-life, unlike a Swiss mechanical watch, where people are investing in craftsmanship and heirlooms that can be passed down to future generations.” — Larry Pettinelli, US president of Patek Philippe

Horses for courses, to each of its own. Sorry Jony, I love your work (& I always will), but Switzerland is not in trouble.

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