Apple's long-awaited smartwatch (speculative drawing above) appears set for a September 9th debut that's got industry observers of all kinds trying to figure out what it means for the Swiss watch industry. Apple suppliers told the Wall Street Journal recently that Apple expects to ship 10 to 15 million watches by the end of 2014. To put this in perspective, only two million smartwatches were shipped for the whole of 2013. If executed flawlessly, Apple could easily dominate this burgeoning market.
The more interesting question is whether it will start to battle for "wrist time" with traditional Swiss watches. Most watch executives believe that the Apple watch will be a compliment to traditional timepieces, not a replacement, but no one knows for certain. And the reminder of the "Quartz crisis" which almost destroyed the industry in the 1970s and 1980s when cheaper battery-operated watches from Asia and the US flooded the market, can't be a reassuring one.
On the other hand, the average Swiss watch goes for just over $700 and is a piece of jewelry as much as anything else; the watch is unlikely to be more than $400 or $500 and while it sure to be infused with Apple's vaunted design prowess, it's unlikely to be considered a piece of jewelry. Also, the average watch owner in the US has two-to-three different watches so there may be room for traditional and cutting-edge models.
Is the Apple watch a threat to the Swiss watch industry? What's your take?