So earlier this week Apple finally unveiled their much hyped ‘iWatch’, or Apple Watch as it is officially known now, and boy was it underwhelming.
The Apple Watch
To be fair, this is not entirely the fault of Apple. They certainly aren’t the first tech company to fail to live up to the lofty nay unachievable expectations set by the media, not to mention their own adoring fans. I mean let’s face it, the Apple Watch was one of the most talked about gadgets of 2014 well before its official unveiling on Monday, which is what makes this whole thing all the more disappointing.
Prior to its unveiling the Apple Watch was being billed as the ultimate smartwatch, the yardstick against which all other smartwatches would be measured (and found wanting, of course.) Post-launch however all people can seem to say is how similar it looks to the Samsung Gear, which was launched so long ago it’s now into its third iteration.
Sure the Apple Watch has some cool added functionality and it appears to be well put-together but there’s no real wow factor that really blows the competition out of the water, at best you could say it’s on par with the rest, if not even a touch behind and that’s if you’re feeling generous. Jean-Claude Biver, the outspoken Chairman of LVMH’s watch and jewelry division and former CEO of Hublot, was obviously not when he told German daily Die Welt that the Apple Watch lacks sex appeal and “looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester.” This from a watch marketing guru who has successfully built not one but three brands into international successes.
Needless to say the Swiss luxury watch industry now firmly believes it has little to fear from the impending rise of the ‘Smart Watch’ – including the Apple Watch. I share this sentiment too and have done so for quite some time now (you can read my thoughts on that particular topic here.) Mr. Biver perhaps put it best though when in the same interview with Die Welt he explained that “Luxury always has something timeless; it’s rare and conveys prestige,” the Apple Watch meanwhile just seems a bit, well, tacky.
What is interesting though is the recent news that major Swiss watchmaker Swatch is planning to launch its own Touch smartwatch next summer. Again I don’t think this presents much of a threat to the established luxury watch brands but it certainly will be interesting to see what impact this has on the digital market, especially if they surprise everyone and actually nail both the design and functionality, something the company is more than capable of doing. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Now for those of you who are still trying to make your mind up about the Apple Watch I recommend reading this excellent review by Hodinkee. As far as I’m aware they were the only real ‘watch guys’ to get hands on with the Apple Watch and as always have presented a pretty level-headed review. Plus they’ve got some great pictures.
At the end of the day Apple is still going to sell millions of units of the Apple Watch, with the novelty factor alone probably serving as incentive enough to get people to part with their hard-earned money. But that’s not the point. It could’ve been so much more but instead it felt kind of like a last minute job, which for a watch lover (even a mechanical one like myself) is kind of disappointing.
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