The Apple Watch through the Eyes of the Industry Leaders

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Frank Geelen | ic_query_builder_black_24px 5 minute read |

When Apple introduced the highly anticipated iWatch… err… Apple Watch last week, it felt a bit like half of the watch industry was holding their breath. Would this be the death sentence for mechanical watches? I had my say about the Apple Watch last week, immediately after it was launched, and wondered what the industry leaders think of this ‘new development’. Monochrome asked a few CEO’s of major watch brands to share their thought on the Apple Watch. Here’s what they think…

Wilhelm Schmid (CEO of A. Lange & Söhne), Stéphane Linder (CEO of TAG Heuer) and mr. Angelo Bonati (CEO of Panerai) share their opinion on the new Apple Watch and smart watches in general. And there was of course Jean-Claude Biver (allround watch guru and industry expert for LVMH Group) who’s never shy to share his spicy honest opinion. In an interview with German newspaper Der Welt he called the Apple Watch “too feminine” and “designed by a first-year student.” Nick Hayek (CEO of the Swatch Group) on the other hand is taking up the fight against Apple in another way. In 2015, he will launch the Swatch Touch, which will have all “fitness-bracelet functions” integrated in Swatch. Now let’s hear what Stéphane Linder, Wilhelm Schmid and Angelo Bonati have to say about the Apple Watch. 

Stéphane Linder TAG Heuer

First up is mr. Stéphane Linder, CEO of TAG Heuer

1. What do you think of the looks of the Apple Watch?

SL: It’s a nice looking piece and a very well designed and functional instrument, such as Sunto or Garmin watches. Therefore, this is not a luxury product: on top that, the technology obsolescence is a hurdle to bring expensive product and positioned it as a luxury item which main reason to be is status, prestige and the comfort and pleasure to wear a luxury hassle free product (charging every night, need of charger, complicated usage).

2. Will the Apple Watch become a threat for mechanical watches in general?

SL: It could be a threat in the entry price segments below CHF 500,- : a) for sports use b) for apple followers c) for young people in quest of the latest trendy object. Now, I am eager to see what other functions will be brought by Apple and this is the key question mark for me: which universal functions could be more appropriate than the ones provided by a cell phone which size, screen, interfaces and autonomy can only be better than a watch? Probably, luxury watches will be threatened when this question will be answered….

3. Do you think that the people who wear TAG Heuer watches will replace them with an Apple Watch?

SL: When you buy luxury watch you aim to identify yourself with the product. When you desire a watch, you are looking for an emotion and a feeling of plentiness deriving from possessing exclusive products which have been long sought after and dreamed about. This is in contrast to what happens with the Apple watch as Apple isn’t luxury and exclusivity

4. Do you plan to create smart watch or integrate smart watch technology into TAG Heuer watches?

SL: We haven’t developed other smartwatches since the Aquaracer 72, the first watch designed specifically for and by a professional sailing team (it was not a smartwach by the way but a “pager”). We are not currently working on such products as it is very specialized but we are not just sitting around on our hands….

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Wilhelm Schmid A. Lange & Söhne

Next is mr Schmid, CEO of A. Lange & Söhne

1. What do you think of the looks of the Apple Watch? / 2. What do you think about the vast amount of functions of the Apple Watch?

WS: Please understand that I cannot answer these questions because we do not comment on products of other brands.

3. Will the Apple Watch become a threat for mechanical watches in general?

WS: I am sure that fine mechanical timepieces will maintain their place on the wrist because they fulfil the human desire for distinction, timelessness and beauty. Although I notice that impressive progress has been made in the field of wearable devices I must admit that I am not really in a position to assess their market opportunities. It simply is a totally different product category and far away from what we are doing.

4. Do you think that the people who wear A. Lange & Söhne watches will replace them with an iWatch?

WS: I can see no reason why they should do so.

5. Do you plan to create a smart watch or integrate smart watch technology into A. Lange & Söhne watches?

WS: No.

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angelo_bonati_panerai

Mr Angelo Bonati, CEO of Panerai, made the following statement about smart watches in general:

The market is full of great opportunities but I would not put these new technologies on the same footing with high-end mechanical watches. Since a long time, the mechanical wristwatch has not been anymore an instrument to measure and read time. There are so many other instruments indicating time today, we are surrounded by them. New technologies will more and more help us to improve our lives, in many ways, but the mechanical watches will go on having their specific role. The relationship between a person and his mechanical timepiece is all about passion, identity, emotions. As for Panerai, for the time being we will surely continue on our proper path.

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I’d like to thank mr. Stéphane Linder and mr. Wilhelm Schmid for taking the time to answer our question. We can agree with all three opinions and especially this sentence from mr. Bonati: “The relationship between a person and his mechanical timepiece is all about passion, identity, emotions.” 

3 responses

  1. Am I crazy or wasn’t Mr Jerome Lambert of Montblanc interviewed for this piece when I read it yesterday?

  2. You’re right, Gyang333, however Montblanc asked me to remove his answers yesterday. Quite a pity because through mr. Lambert’s, you could see his passion for fine watchmaking.

  3. Thanks Frank! I do remember his response. I wonder if it was deemed too political because iPod his mention of Samsung. Oh well, neither here no there. I’m glad I was able to read his response before it was removed.

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