Gadget enthusiasts aren’t the only ones bullish on the prospects of the Apple Watch and the ripples it might cause in the watch industry. Swatch co-founder Elmar Mock believes the Apple Watch is going to send a shock through the watch business and that it may cause a real threat to watchmakers.
“Anything in the price range of 500 francs to 1,000 francs is really in danger,” Mock told Bloomberg in an interview recently, noting that he believes we’re on the cusp of an “Ice Age” in the watch industry. “[The Apple Watch] will put a lot of pressure on the traditional watch industry and jobs in Switzerland,” Mock continued. “Apple will succeed quickly.” Mock says there’s too much “arrogance” in the Swiss watch industry and that traditional watchmakers haven’t taken smartwatches seriously.
Mock’s range of 500 francs to 1,000 francs means he’s talking about the watch market below $1,000 dollars, which means watchmakers selling devices in that range may be in for a rude awakening. The Apple Watch starts at $349 but costs as much as $17,000, depending on the model and band a consumer selects. He believes that the Apple Watch will mostly affect the low-end to mid-range luxury watch market and that high-priced watches may be safe for the time being.
Others don’t quite agree. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA head Jean-Clausde Biver, which owns TAG Heuer, doesn’t think the Apple Watch will threaten his business. Mock also told Bloomberg that Swiss watchmakers have access to the right technology to compete, but that it’s going to be a matter of top brass reacting “accordingly” to Apple’s business model.
“Apple won’t die if the smartwatch isn’t a success,” Mock said. “But in the net two to three years, a part of the Swiss watch market will suffer strongly.”