Article by By Thomas Mulier and Corinne Gretler (c) Business and Technology News - Read full story here.
Swiss companies want to cash in on smartwatch market
March 18, 2017
Swiss watchmakers are diving further into the unproven smartwatch market, with Montblanc, Tag Heuer and Tissot seeking to attract younger shoppers with a technology the industry largely snubbed until consumers began turning away from traditional timepieces. Last week, Tag Heuer unveiled the new generation of a $1,650 smartwatch it makes with partners Google and Intel, Montblanc released the $890 Summit, and Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek announced plans for a Tissot connected watch using a proprietary operating system. Yet sales of smartwatches so far have underwhelmed, even for Apple, and the new tech-driven timepieces generally command lower prices than the Swiss industry’s traditional output, creating risks for brands that have jumped in. [...] Swiss watchmakers have insulated their high-end brands from the trend, seeking to preserve the exclusivity of more traditional timepieces. The top five brands by sales, as ranked by analyst Rene Weber at Bank Vontobel — Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Patek Philippe and Longines — have stayed out of the smartwatch market entirely. Richemont Chairman Johann Rupert previously said his brands planned to make “intelligent watch-straps” and that that putting electronic functions into the watch case creates a danger of obsolescence for time-honored watchmaking practices. The mixed results for tech giants have eased some fears in the Swiss industry, which has reported signs of sales bottoming after 19 months of declining exports. Otherwise, they risk a slippery slope in which lower-priced timepieces undercut their sales.