Swiss watchmakers are ‘f**ked,’ says Apple’s Jony Ive


"Will design for food."
Photo: Photo: Apple

In his latest column for The New York Times, Nick Bilton drops an interesting tidbit about Jony Ive and the iWatch.

The mythical wearable, which is expected to finally see the light of day at next week’s Apple event, is something Ive has been bragging about around Apple HQ. He thinks it will be so good that even Swiss watchmakers won’t know what hit them.

According to a designer who works at Apple, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, in bragging about how cool he thought the iWatch was shaping up to be, gleefully said Switzerland is in trouble — though he chose a much bolder term for “trouble” to express how he thought the watchmaking nation might be in a tough predicament when Apple’s watch comes out.

Bilton was one of the first reporters to mention any details about the iWatch. Back in 2011, he said that a small team at Apple was “conceptualizing and even prototyping some wearable devices.” And in 2013 he reported that Apple was “experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass.”

The rest of the tech industry has been madly scrambling to announce their wearables before Apple sucks the air out of the market next week. Samsung showed off its sixth wearable of the year today, and it doesn’t have a price point or shipping date yet.

If Ive thinks the iWatch will look good enough to compete with even the high-end timepieces the Swiss are known for, Apple probably has a slam dunk up its sleeve. Senior executive Eddy Cue recently said that this fall’s product pipeline is the best he’s seen in his 25 years at Apple.

A Swiss watch industry executive was poached by Apple earlier this summer. The company has brought on other top-level executives from the fashion industry, including Angela Ahrendts of Burberry and Paul Deneve from Yves Saint Laurent.

  • James O’Loughlin

    Haha what a bad ass.

    Does Jony behave differently away from the public eye? I always see him so formal and professional that I can’t imagine him bragging like this let alone use a four letter word.

    • He’s British. Ask Leander. Cursing is in their blood.

      • Joe Brunet

        Did you just delete my post Alex? WTF?

      • Leigh Parsons

        dont stereotype us british please

    • The Bosnian

      Says the person who puts the A word in his reply……

  • DTM

    I guess this Apple designer is tight enough with Ive for Ive to “brag” to him, but not tight (good enough?) to work on the product or for Ive?

    Jonathan Ive – known around the world for his bragging about secret Apple products. LOL

  • Yohannes

    Here’s my concern: How many of these do they think they’ll be able to sell? It’s not like people upgrade their expensive watches every other year.

    • Throndson

      Remember the original iPhone’s price? That thing was EXPENSIVE for a phone at its’ time. I figure we’ll see that with this “iWatch”. Of course, unless the market scrambles and buys this product right from the shelf, then $400 might not sound too crazy.

      • Ken Esq

        Cell phones had a history of being expensive with the majority of the upfront cost eaten by the carrier…in the case of Apple it was AT&T/Cingular when it launched. If the iPhone had cost consumers $700 out of pocket it wouldn’t have sold nearly as much.
        I doubt the carriers are going to be lining up to sell watches unless they require their own data plan.

      • Agreed with you, I witnessed a craze to buy an iPhone when it was launched and people still are crazy about this stuff.

      • Christian

        400 USD would be dirt cheap in the luxury watch market that Apple claims they will take down. High end Luxury watch market would start at 10 000 USD and works it way up from there.

    • Christian

      People who buy expensive mechanical watches tend to own many of them. I have bought three within 3 months :-). In any case the forementioned price of 400 USD would position iWatch wayyyyyyyyyyyyy below luxury mechanical watch range … It would be positioned to good quality quartz watch / non luxury brand range at that price.
      There are lot of opinnions regarding what can be considered luxury watch, but generally entry level luxury watches would be priced around at least 1000 USD. Some might argue for even higher number.

      • Pedro Nuno

        We don’t want a luxury/bling watch. We want a watch that has a nice design and can do the same things as an iphone. Make/receive calls, messaging, controlling your house equipments and everything that has bluetooth in it.
        If the watch does this, then 400$ isn’t much.

      • Christian

        This is not a question of whether people will buy it or will it be a success in the market … I believe it will be YES to both of those. The question was whether it will replace brands like Rolex in the high end luxury watch market as claimed by Apple … You sort of answered the question; High end mechanical watches are a niche market and those people who buy these watches would not buy iWatch as a replacement even if it bestowed three wishes on its user; well, they would use it for the duration of those three wishes and wish for three very nice mechanical watches :-)

      • Dolang

        I agree with you Christian. People who purchase high end mechanical watches aren’t going to be running to replace it with a digital no matter what functions it boasts. I’m very interested in wearables and the fitness and biofeedback they promise but that doesn’t mean I’m selling my watch collection.

  • AKC322

    Somehow I don’t think I’ll stop wearing my IWC anytime soon.

    • Merckel

      IWC is nice jewelry.

      Form + Function = iWearable and will demote mechanical watches to pinky rings.

      • Christian

        25 USD Casio watch has 100x functionality (and intelligence) over 25 000 USD Rolex. They have nice sleek look as well. By that definition Casio should be superior to Rolex by a factor of 100 000. Yet that is not the case.
        How much more intelligence and digital content must iWatch have in order to be better MECHANICAL watch? The answer … even if it packs enough power to simulate the known universe, it is still not a mechanical watch.
        I would however buy it to run our company servers though ;-)

      • Ken Esq

        The question is how much more can a smartwatch do over that $25 Casio.

      • George H.

        If it can track your heart rate, steps, route along with alerts for some stuff and tell me the time I would say it achieved more but I still wouldn’t pay $400 for one. Will have to leave it for those who have more money than me. :-)

      • Ken Esq

        Yes, that’s a possibility except as soon as they put GPS into a watch battery life goes to shorter than your walk. I do agree that some technology would be of interest, but as long as it requires a smartphone within BT range…it’s just geek bling.

  • MacAdvisor

    Pride goeth before the fall.

  • UnholyGod

    Time Will Tell

    • David_SC


  • Brandon Long

    I just want the new phone. I could care less about a watch.

  • Lobo555

    Power rangers communicator watch here i come

    • Reivax_65

      Me, too! Well, as long as it’s not a Skeuomorphin’ Power Rangers communicator.

  • Guest

    This thing may not look like a watch at all. I think lots of the smart watches that have been announced look to much like actual watches, which may be a bad idea, because they wont stand out as new, sleek, exasperation devices. Most people wont see the difference in design between a watch, or a smart watch. Its the same thing Apple did with the iPhone. They created a device that looked nothing like a phone and presented it as, and called it a phone. We’ll see.

    • Indiana Blotto’s Last Crusade

      Exactly. Just compare the look of phones in the pipeline with those after the iPhone was unveiled. That’s why Samsung has been getting their hat handed to them in court – it is clear they were going in a traditional direction until they saw what Apple was doing and then rushed to copy them. I have a feeling it will be the same thing with the iWatch and Galaxy Gear will wind up being the equivalent of a flip phone.

      • Ken Esq

        Well, except there were more than a few rounded rectangle phones and PDAs before the iPhone. What Apple did well was to make them easier to use and finger, rather than stylus controlled.

      • George H.

        Didn’t most of them have physical keyboards whereas Apple made the virtual keyboard popular?

      • Ken Esq

        Many did, but not all. Phones like the Kyocera 6035 (PalmOS) had a flip down keyboard that exposed a full screen. Most of the PDAs iPaq, Dell, and even the later Palms were pretty close.

      • Then when Apple sue them for copying their design, people will turn around and be like, “yeah but how else was the device meant to look like?!”

      • site7000


  • FootSoldier

    This thing may not look like a watch at all. I think lots of the smart watches that have been announced look to much like actual watches, which may be a bad idea, because they wont stand out as new, sleek, aspirational devices. Most people wont see the difference in design between a watch, or a smart watch. Its the same thing Apple did with the iPhone. They created a device that looked nothing like a phone and presented it as, and called it a phone. We’ll see.

  • j238

    The best Swiss watches are mechanical and their appeal is they don’t use electronics.

    If Apple is coming out with a spectacular mechanical watch, this article could be accurate. Otherwise, no.

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    I’m still going to continue wearing my Casio G-Shock Solar because it’s very reliable and wears like iron. I’m looking for a wearable health device from Apple and I’m not particular about how it looks as long as it’s got a multitude of body sensors that can keep track of my well-being.

  • A. Mielczarek

    IMHO, until they make the watch to not require uploading every day Swiss people can relax.

  • Nathan

    Apple’s watch, or really any of these similar watches, will never replace the analog watches. I buy a new phone every year almost, a new laptop every two or three, but I’ve had my watches for many, many years. Granted, they were expensive, but not much more expensive than I expect Apple’s watch to be.

  • Christian

    I think we are talking about two different markets here. I do not doubt that these products will have a market, but it is not the same market as with people who buy mechanical watches. People who buy mechanical watches do not buy them for their functionality per se … if more ‘intelligence’, ‘digital’, ‘extreme accuracy’ etc would have been the deciding factor, a 25 Euro Casio watch should have ruled over any mechanical watch decades ago. Casio is superior to IWC, Rolex, Philip Patek etc. in every possible way that has to do with those factors. I buy mechanical watches because I appreciate the mechanical engineering and hand crafting creating something so beutiful and precise using techologyu that is essentially 300 years old. No digital product can match that by definition … they are not the same product.
    I wish the best for iWatch and Apple, but I think Rolex and Swatch can sleep easy.

  • Fabian

    muhahahahahaha, my Apple cliche has been fully confirmed with this article. 100 thumbs down for Ive…. a Smartwatch is not comparable with a mechanical watch / jewellery watch at all.

    • Sunrise250

      Even though using animals as a form of transport had a lot of charm and beauty it did not stop Henry Ford et al putting the final nail in the buggy whip industry… . Yes, some people still own a horse but traffic jams in major towns, cities, roads and highways are now 99.999% motor vehicles.

      • ‘MericaLover

        Unless you’re in Montana.

  • UrsusMichaelus

    The Swiss high-end watch makers are “f***ed?” Remember, this is the man who brought us the soulless mess known as the iOS 7 “improved” interface! This braggadocio doesn’t suit him or Apple, IMHO.

    • David_SC

      I agree…famous people who made infamous “doomed” predictions about Apple include Michael Dell, Palm’s Colligan, and Steve Ballmer. If any company would disdain this type of commenting, it would be Apple.

  • dRache

    exciting times ahead for AAPL.

  • :D
    Cannot wait anymore for September 9th, I’m so excited!

  • How much do you think a Swiss watch cost’s on average?

  • David_SC

    What…and give up my stainless steel Michael Kors chronograph…are you out of your f**kin mind?!!

  • wardy

    being an apple fan i am interested in the iwatch, however somehow i have a feeling this will NEVER replace my Cartier.

    • Jonny ive

      sorry i should have said casio. not swiss watch.

  • Martin

    Wow, so people will give up using their Rolex for the iWatch? No, there’s room for both products in the market. A proper and mechanical Swiss made watch will live forever.

  • osmoscosmos

    The great thing about these smartwatches when they become popular is that i’m not going to look stupid when I constantly admire my beloved mechanical watch on my wrist, because people just think that i’m checking my e-mails or facebook!

  • Can Poyrazoğlu

    Wait, there is no white background and he is looking at the camera. This is not him.

  • CARose

    Whoa, wait a second. Ive said this, or an unidentified designer is conveying what Ive “said”.

  • CARose

    This is suspect at best. Just doesn’t sound Ive-like.

  • Roger N Serena Khemlani

    Swiss watch makers are no virgins, the are used to
    getting f##ked

  • AviSolomon

    What Jony Ive’s personal watch can tell us about Apple’s rumored iWatch design:

  • Joe Brunet

    I wanna say something bold: “Apple is going to reinvent the watch”. They did with the iphone and they did with the whole music industry

  • George H.

    I would guess the four-letter word is more the habit of the writer for Seems today few can talk without spouting it.

  • CannabisTV

    My current watch tells the time, as does my phone, yet it doesn’t have to be charged. I like that.