News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Z_CNHI News Service

October 22, 2013

For Swiss watchmakers, not yet time to worry about smartwatches

FRANKFURT, Germany — In the 1970s, Switzerland's watchmakers were almost put out of business when they underestimated the importance of the quartz watch. Though the industry recovered and is prospering, today it faces a new technological challenge from "smartwatches" such as Samsung Electronics's $299 Galaxy Gear.

As with quartz four decades ago, the devices are being met with a shrug. According to a survey by consultants Deloitte, two-thirds of executives in the Swiss industry say smartwatches pose no threat.

"How would you like it if your boyfriend brings you a smartwatch instead of a nice pavé diamond watch?" said Johann Rupert, the billionaire controlling shareholder of Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, which sells watches under 13 brands including Cartier and Vacheron Constantin. "I'm not sure it's going to have a huge impact on classic watches. "

The industry should brace for the arrival of smartwatches, said Andreas Hofer, a partner at Boston Consulting Group in Zurich. Researcher Strategy Analytics predicts global sales of 1 million smartwatches this year and 7 million in 2014. Sanford C. Bernstein forecasts that Apple could see iWatch revenue of $2.3 billion to $5.7 billion in the first year of selling such a device.

Swiss watchmakers "shouldn't say too quickly it's a trend that won't affect them," said consultant Hofer, who checks his iPhone to be on time. "There should be some modesty."

The high-end Swiss watch is so low-tech that from a practical standpoint, it should no longer exist. When battery- powered quartz watches arrived in the 1970s, many consumers abandoned older mechanical ones — both those that require winding and self-winders, which tap energy from the motion of the wearer's wrist.

The number of Swiss employed in the industry fell from about 90,000 in 1970 to just over 30,000 in 1984, and companies decreased from 1,600 in 1970 to 600 today, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, a manufacturers' group.

Quartz watches were cheaper and more reliable. Even the most expensive mechanical watches lose several seconds a week and require maintenance every few years that can cost more than two new iPhones.

Despite its continued reliance on centuries-old technology, the industry has fortified itself since the 1980s. Switzerland's exports of timepieces rose 11 percent last year to a record 21.4 billion francs ($23.7 billion), based on wholesale prices, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Exports climbed 8.5 percent in September from a year ago, data from the federation showed today.

Mechanical watches made up a third of revenue in the $58 billion watch market last year, and the segment will expand 33 percent by 2016, researcher Euromonitor International forecasts. High-end Swiss watches can fetch stratospheric prices: Patek Philippe's Sky Moon Tourbillon runs $1.3 million and Franck Muller's Aeternitas Mega 4 is $2.9 million.

"The more you learn about watches, the more you realize there is real know-how behind them," said Gabriel Vachette, 30, who runs a website about watches and owns roughly 20. He got the bug from his father, who has 100.

"You can tell a story with a beautiful watch," Vachette said. "People who buy a Galaxy Gear will get rid of it in a year or two."

Many Swiss watchmakers will likely continue to do well because a smartwatch may often be an addition to a collection rather than a replacement for a $5,000 Rolex, according to Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich.

"If you're a successful young investment banker you can probably afford to own both a luxury watch and a smartwatch," Cox said. "A Swiss watch really is a statement about yourself so other people can clearly see you're wealthy. You don't get the same 'wow' factor with a smartwatch."

At greatest risk are low- and mid-range brands such as Swatch and Tissot, Cox said. With many timepieces in the $200- $400 price range, they'll often be in direct competition with smartwatches in the minds of buyers.

Samsung's watch "shows nothing new," said Swatch Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek. Swatch has made interactive watches for 20 years, he said, "and has gained precious experience." Tissot, a Swatch unit whose watches have had electronic touch screens since 1999 and incorporate altimeters and electronic compasses for hikers and divers, has said it will continue adding technology.

Investors are backing the Swiss watchmakers. Swatch and Richemont shares have both outpaced Switzerland's benchmark SMI Index this year, and 20 analysts recommend buying Swatch while none recommend selling the stock.

"So far the concept of the smartwatch is questionable," said Michel Keusch, a portfolio manager at Bellevue Asset Management AG in Kuesnacht, Switzerland, which holds Richemont and Swatch shares among its 2.2 billion francs of assets. "You need to charge it every day. It's a miniature screen. Everybody has a smartphone anyway."

Keusch said consumers may initially snap up smartwatches amid media hype, but that the product may fade like calculator watches did in the 1980s. He says sales may start around 2 million units a year, a fraction of the 1 billion timepieces sold annually.

HTC Corp. is developing a smartwatch that uses Google Inc.'s Android software and can take pictures, according to a person familiar with the matter. The smartwatch will join a growing segment of wearable technology that already includes devices from Samsung and Sony Corp.

History is littered with high-tech watches that are no longer on store shelves. Microsoft formed alliances in 2003 with Fossil and Citizen for watches that could receive information such as news, sports, weather, and stocks. Swatch and Tissot joined the software maker with similar products the following year. By 2008, they had all been pulled from the market.

One Swiss watchmaker embracing new technology is Arny Kapshitzer. His startup, Hyetis, says its $1,200 Crossbow ) a self-winder with a camera and GPS that can pair with phones — is the first Swiss smartwatch. Kapshitzer presented his idea to several Swiss brands, and the few that met with him said smartwatches are just a fad that will quickly die out.

"I don't believe it: I think it's a real market and the future of the watch industry," Kapshitzer said. Swiss watchmakers "are still in a comfortable situation. We're in a situation of resistance to innovation. It's a big mistake."

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren's populist rhetoric pumps up students about their loan burdens, but she conveniently neglects to mention the real problem - the exorbitant cost of college - much less how she's benefitted from those high prices.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Wildcats aren't champs but we're all still watching Calipari

    Kentucky coach John Calipari is a college basketball phenom for his ability to knit together championship-caliber teams of freshmen. How long will Calipari's success last as other coaches catch on?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 4.49.09 PM.png Train, entertain your pets with these 3 smartphone apps

    While they may not have thumbs to use the phone, pets can benefit from smartphone apps designed specifically for them.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 25801486.jpg VIDEO: Northern California bus crash kills 10

    At least nine people died in Northern California on Thursday night, in an accident involving a bus, a car and FedEx truck. The bus was filled with high school students from Southern California who were on their way to visit a college campus.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Today in History for April 18th Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign
NDN Video
Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station My name is Cocaine Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity