Smartwatches Could Sound Death Knell for Rolex

They're the biggest threat to traditional Swiss brands, report says
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2017 12:37 PM CST
Will Smartwatches Be a Rolex-Killer?
File photo of the Apple Watch Hermes.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Could the end be near for luxury watch brands like Rolex? Probably not anytime soon, but the explosion of smartwatches represents the biggest threat to Swiss watchmakers since Seiko introduced its landmark Quartz watch in 1969, Business Insider reports. Classic analog watches can't match the technology of wrist computers that do everything from play music to turn on your air-conditioning. Contenders such as the Apple Watch represent the new battleground for watch makers, and Swiss brands "may soon see a large portion of their business threatened," says Andrea Squatrito. A report by his company, RE Analytics, says high-end makers like Rolex have a lot to lose, with 45% of the company's business coming from their "lower end" watches with a starting price point of about $2,700.

With those upmarket customers in mind, Apple turned up the heat when it teamed up with Hermes to introduce a sleeker version of the Apple Watch with a choice of stylish leather bands, starting at $1,500. But the future of the smartwatch hasn't always looked so rosy. A steep drop in sales late last year had analysts questioning the future of do-it-all timepieces, per CNN. Consumers surveyed called smartwatches too expensive, big, and ugly, per Computer World. Still, the new year began with a flood of new smartwatches in stores—and more on the horizon—ranging from upmarket versions by Tag to old standbys like Casio, per Wareable. Countering the "ugly" rap, upmarket brands like Kate Spade and Michael Kors introduced hybrid versions blending the look of traditional analogs with smartwatch features. (This jacket will charge your phone.)

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