Already reeling from a strengthening currency, China's slow-down, months of disruptive protests in Hong Kong, and plummeting share prices, the Swiss watch industry is now preparing for the debut of the Apple Watch scheduled for March or April 2015.
Initially many executives dismissed the Apple Watch as a faddish item. Most infamously, Jean-Claude Biver, who heads up power brands like TAG Heuer, Zenith, and Hublot told the German national newspaper Die Welt the watch had "no sex appeal" and looked "like it was designed by a student in their first trimester."
Now the sentiment is changing as the full scale of the challenge presented by the device is better understood. Jean-Claude Biver himself admits that technically advanced components of future of smartwatches will need to come from Silicon Valley. He also seems to have changed his stance on the Apple Watch.
“It’s a fantastic product, an incredible achievement,” he said in a Bloomberg interview published this week.
With the smartwatch market expected to grow from $1.8 billion in 2014 to about $10 billion by 2018, there is much to lose by staying on the sidelines. It will be interesting to see how the industry adapts to this challenge as doing nothing isn't a strategy for the future.