Jony Ive was right — Swiss watchmakers are dying

By

apple-watch
Do Swiss watchmakers wake up sweating at the sight of the Apple Watch?
Photo: Apple

Jony Ive memorably (allegedly) described Swiss watchmakers as “f**ked” due to the then-impending launch of the launch of the Apple Watch, and one year later — like some kind of creepy, well-dressed soothsayer in an Apple-centric episode of The Twilight Zone — it seems he may have been correct.

Swiss watch exports suffered their biggest decline in six years in October, with sales dropping 12 percent to $2 billion. Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich, describes 2015 as a year “to forget” for watchmakers.

Unless their name is Apple, of course.

Things are looking tough for Swiss watchmakers.
Things are looking tough for Swiss watchmakers.
Photo: Bloomberg

The drop in sales is being noticed particularly in Hong Kong, a.k.a. the world’s largest watch market, where Swiss watch shipments have fallen by a massive 39 percent.

While the decline can’t entirely be pinned on Apple, the Apple Watch is singled out by Bloomberg’s report as having a definite impact on Swiss brands, particularly low-end timepieces. Non-Swiss watchmakers are also having problems — with the U.S.-based Fossil Group experiencing a 37 percent stock plunge recently after admitting its Q4 sales are likely to decline by up to 16 percent.

As a fan of luxury watches, I can’t see the Apple Watch having a permanent negative impact on the higher-end mechanical watches, but lower priced “fashion” watches may well suffer the effects of the smartwatch revolution.

I hate to say “I told you so” but, well, Jony Ive told you so!