We’ve all heard the throwaway comments about “watches being pointless” now that the ubiquity of mobile phones has gone truly global. And yet this glib assumption that people in the mass millions will dispense of the wristwatch is quashed by the rude health of the global luxury watch market. So, will the advent of smartwatches have an impact on the watch industry? Will we see hard-hitting damage comparable to the effect quartz watches had on the industry in the 1970s? Not a chance. For the simple reason that the two products are not mutually exclusive. Anyone who can afford a decent mechanical watch, be it at entry level, mid-level or up into the echelons of haute horlogerie – can also spend $200 on a smartwatch without a second thought. A smartwatch may be bought to enhance a smartphone experience, but it will never replace a fine watch.
The idea that any self-respecting lady or gentlemen would attend a black-tie dinner wearing a black plastic Samsung watch is ludicrous. People simply have too much taste to allow smartwatches to have any impact on the luxury watch segment. So even as the recently unveiled Samsung Galaxy Gear has beaten rivals Apple, Microsoft, Sony and Google to the punch with their smartwatch, you will find little concern in the halls of the Baselworld and SIHH watch fairs. Whether it be intelligent watches, wearable devices or strap on espresso makers – there will always be a place on the discerning person’s wrist for a real watch.