Will Apple challenge the watch tradition?

The old watchmakers express themselves with power and confidence at BaselWorld in Switzerland; ”the Apple Watch is not a threat” and then they come up with arguments that obviously make sense to them, but are totally irrelevant to me.

”Can it be repaired in 1,000 years or can it be repaired in 80 years?” Biver asked. ”Can your children wear the watch? No – because it won’t work anymore! The technology will be gone.” Jean-Claude Biver, Tag Heuer

If I want a little piece of expensive watch technology, the mechanical kind, which has its beauty in the way the tiny cog wheels smoothly work together and the worth comes from tradition and history, then I would of course never consider buying an Apple Watch to fulfil that need.

The problem is, I’m not interested in that kind of watch. I have never been. To me, a watch is something that was a tool for telling me the time. Since about 15 years I don’t wear a watch, today I just use my iPhone, iPad or iMac to see what time it is.

Therefore it’s completely irrelevant for me if there are skilled craftsmen who put together those tiny cog wheels so that everything works like a, eh, clockwork, or if I get my time from somewhere else. I just want to know the time and I frankly don’t bother at all about how that little piece of information is delivered. I couldn’t care less.

Also, I don’t think of a watch as an item that will stay in the family for generations. Hey, the watch will be mine and I’m cool with that. The only ones that are interested in repairing 1000 years old watches are archaeologists! I’m not buying an Apple Watch for the future, I buy it because it’s the coolest watch I can get right now! (Well, soon…)

”A watch is not only giving time, it’s a status symbol and I don’t think you’ll get a status symbol in an Apple Watch with two billion functions that no one understands.” Walter von Kanel, Longines

Oh, oh, oh, BIG mistake! ”Two billion functions that no one understands,” I think that the watchmaker von Kanel might be looking at this from his own, narrow perspective because if there is something I have had severe difficulties to understand, it is digital watches… It doesn’t matter how many smart functions they have if you just want the watch to give you the time, and you don’t understand how to use the rest of it. The thing with Apple is the user experience and how they started out by making computers that were easy to use. Then they have continued to make devices that are easy to use: iPod, iPhone and iPad. We already know that the Apple Watch will be easy to use AND that we will recognize most of its features from what we have learned from using our other Apple devices.

For anyone who is used to Apple devices, it will become easy to understand how to use the Apple Watch.

I think that the Apple Watch will become a status symbol, but to show status is not only about showing how much money you have. Status is also about your intellectual capital, how modern you are and wearing an Apple Watch will send out signals that you are a smart, modern person, possibly with a little twist of ”who wants to take care of her/his body”. Smart, modern and healthy – many people want to be seen as that.

Those ”two billion functions” is what it’s all about. Apple, together with app developers, will deliver so many smart features that you can use with the watch and altogether this little jewel will become one of your most important helper in your daily life. On top of that, it will also be part of the Apple Ecosystem and Apple Pay will make it ridiculously easy to pay with just touching your Apple Watch. That’s a true coolness factor, but it will also make us wonder how we ever could cope with pulling up our payment cards from our wallets…

This is what the Swiss watchmakers have to compete with. There will still be a market for their traditional watches, but so many more will want to have an Apple Watch. Many of those have never had a watch. They are not getting the concept of a traditional watch. They want a piece of the future.

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