When it was reported in The New York Times that Apple’s design mastermind Jony Ive allegedly spoke in no uncertain terms when he said that old watch companies in Switzerland is in trouble because of Apple Watch, it created a stir. Is Ive correct or this is just a misplaced bravado? Does he have a point?

The Swiss watch industry has to be concerned about what a computer on the wrist means for its business. Even if it doesn’t spell the end for the luxury watch, Apple Watch makes it clear that the world is living in a new era for the timepiece and there’s no going back.

To observers of the secretive Swiss watch industry, its deafening silence and seemingly passive response to Apple attack to their centuries-old business could be mistaken for submission before an overwhelming adversary, which could not be farther than the truth.

Luxury and fashion groups Richemont, LVMH, Swatch Group and Guess have been busy in the past year tinkering with smartwatches of their own, while aiming to preserve their products' more timeless appeal.

When Apple Watch was first announced last September 2014, some experts dismissed such devices as appealing to a different class of customer - those who prize technology over prestige.

Now analysts and industry executives are starting to think that maybe the Apple Watch juggernaut will stoke sales of luxury timepieces among younger consumers used to telling the time with their phones, rather than on their wrists.

"Apple has the potential to make the watch cool again," said CCS Insight mobile analyst Ben Wood, a confessed wearable gadget freak. "I think the Swiss watch industry are going to be absolutely delighted."

For instance, Swatch, which has dabbled with smartwatch experiments for more than a decade and already makes components for fitness band wearable devices, has told Swiss newspapers it is gearing up to offer smartwatches of its own in the next few months.

"Apple is not the only company which is about to toss a smartwatch on the market," Nick Hayek, chief executive of Swatch, the world's largest watchmaking group, told SonntagsBlick in January 2015. "This is not a threat but a huge opportunity for us and the Swiss watch industry."

The upcoming Swatch Smartwatch will include a chip that allows users to make contactless payments with a swipe of the wrist. It will use long-lasting batteries and work with both Apple and Google-based phones, according to news reports.

While the Apple Watch has drawn rave reviews for many of its features, its limited battery life of no more than 18 hours before re-charging is considered a big drawback that Swatch is willing to take advantage of.


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