Clock is ticking for Swiss watchmakers ahead of Apple Watch 3


apple watch
The watch striking fear into the hearts (and wallets) of rivals.
Photo: Apple

Apple fans may have been pleased with yesterday’s media event, but one group that wasn’t is Switzerland’s largest watchmaker. Shortly after Apple announced its new Series 3 Apple Watch, shares in Swatch Group AG tumbled 3.2 percent due to concerns about added competition.

The Apple Watch Series 3 saw Apple add cellular capabilities to its wearable device — meaning that you no longer need to carry around your iPhone to receive texts, calls, emails, or Apple Map directions.

Time to worry?

“The fact the new watch is untethered from the phone has the potential to be a game changer,” Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, told Bloomberg. “It is a fight for wrist real estate and superb functionality versus a simple quartz watch. In many cases the quartz watch is going to lose.”

Although high-end luxury mechanical Swiss timepieces have been unaffected by Apple Watch, it has been eating away at the lower and mid-range watches on the market, including Swatch’s namesake $50 plastic watch brand.

Swiss watchmakers aren’t exactly as “f*cked” as Jony Ive allegedly claimed they would be back in 2014, but added functionality for the Apple Watch certainly doesn’t help their case. At yesterday’s Apple event, Tim Cook revealed that the Apple Watch is now the no. 1 selling watch worldwide.

Apple and Swatch have been competing ever since Apple first announced its entry into the watch business. Swatch has taken several stabs at Apple during that time — including filing a trademark for “One more thing,” the phrase famously used by Steve Jobs at the end of Apple keynotes before he unveiled a big surprise. Earlier this year, Apple sued Swatch over its “Tick different” slogan — which rips off Apple’s memorable “Think different” tagline.

The cellular version of the new Apple Watch costs $399 while an option without cellular will be available for $329. Series 3 will go on sale in nine countries on September 15, with units shipping on September 22.