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Notable Watchmaker Says Apple Watch Is Bland

Notable Watchmaker Says Apple Watch Is Bland

March 25, 2015

Lisa Eadicicco, Business Insider:

But the Apple Watch may not appeal to the crowd that typically buys high-end mechanical watches. Roger W. Smith, a watchmaker that’s been creating high-end mechanical watches for 25 years, thinks the Apple Watch is “bland.”

“For me, a watch is very different,” Smith, who was named as one of the best watchmakers in the world by The Wall Street Journal, tells Business Insider… “To me, I just find an Apple Watch a bit bland really,” he says.

I certainly wouldn’t say the Apple Watch is bland, but I wouldn’t call it breathtaking either. Clearly Apple has scared the traditional Swiss watch industry in some capacity, which is causing them to go in defense mode and worry that people won’t buy their high end wares, but I truly believe they have nothing to worry about.

While Apple certainly has a chance to disrupt the sub-$1000 watch industry (and not just Switzerland’s), I question how well Edition will succeed, and I still don’t quite understand why it exists. It’s entirely possible, from a volume perspective (if Apple is in fact producing the expensive gold versions at any significant rate of more than a 10,000 to 20,000 units per year), that they made a rare mistake. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Smith continues:

People often sort of talk about mechanical watches having a bit of a soul and a life to them. You can often relate it to cars. People like the sound of the engine of their cars. It’s the same with watches; people like to hear them tick, people like to see the movements in the back of the watch.

Again, I think this is a key reason why Apple may have goofed with Edition. They’re asking customers to pay for a luxury watch without offering them the standard perks or inherent longevity of a luxury watch. But then again, I’m not a member of that model’s target market. The stainless Apple Watch is plenty aspirational enough for me. And that’s why, as I said, I think the Swiss market has nothing to worry about. Smith’s response is the right one. He dismisses Apple Watch because it has absolutely no conceivable connection to his craft.

If only the likes of TAG Heuer and Swatch understood this.