Apple Watch is killing Swiss watches faster than expected

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Apple Watch OS2 add a friend
Makers of Swiss watches may not be adding Apple to their friend circles anytime soon.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The third-quarter figures are in for the Swiss watch industry, and it’s not good news. Exports slid 8.5 percent over the past three months, continuing a trend that has some worried that newer tech like the Apple Watch might be affecting demand for traditional timepieces.

Analysts are citing falling sales in Asia as the reason for the downturn.

“After May and July, September is the third month to show a marked decline in Swiss watch exports,” a representative the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said on Tuesday (via Reuters). “This negative change has spread to other, hitherto more robust Asian markets and casts something of a shadow over prospects for the year 2015.”

The quarterly drop includes a 10 percent plummet in July, but even before that, the industry saw a 9.9 percent decrease in May. The third-quarter performance represents the biggest slide since 2009.

We can’t quite chalk this up to the Apple Watch making inroads into Asian markets; analysts are also pointing to a deadly disease outbreak in Asia this year.

Reports say the most affected price point is the mid range, which fell 14.5 percent and includes pieces between 200-500 francs. That equates to a cost of around $200 – $525 in U.S. currency, which lines up more or less with the costs of both the entry-level Sport ($349 – $399 with basic bands) and mid-tier Apple Watch, which starts between $549 and $599). So if the Apple Watch is, in fact, having a significant effect on the Swiss market, it’s likely the cheaper Sport edition causing the trouble.

While the Swiss industry isn’t hopeful for the numbers going into the all-important holiday season, when more people are in the market for beautiful watches, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues or if other regions might be able to pick up the hole Asia is leaving. If Q4 sees another decline while Apple Watch sales continue to rise as the device becomes more widely available, it won’t bode well for the future of traditional timepieces.