The Apple Watch has many in the jewellery industry concerned about the future of their own fine watch sales. There is no question that the Apple Watch will be a big seller and jewellery stores will not get to stock them; they will only be sold in Apple stores. It is easy to see why jewellers may think that this product will be a strong competitor to the watch industry.
Apple Watch vs. a Mechanical watch
A fine mechanical watch is a miniature work of art and a piece of history. It is a hand crafted mechanical device developed over centuries with one basic function; to accurately tell time. Without it accurate time it would have been very difficult for humans to explore the world.
The Apple watch is a miniaturized Apple iPhone that just happens to sit conveniently on your wrist. It allows you to do all things you currently do on your Apple Phone, including using GPS to explore the world.
The one thing that the Apple Watch lacks that a mechanical watch has is longevity. A mechanical watch is an heirloom product made to be passed down to future generations, often gaining value over time. An Apple Watch, like all other Apple products, is designed with planned obsolescence. It will have a functional lifespan of a year or two and then will need to be replaced with the latest improved model.
Style vs Function
While there is no doubt that the Apple Watch will eclipse all mechanical watches in function, its form is sleek, thin and plain. Even the $17,000 18K gold case is still pretty basic.
But style matters. Jean-Claude Biver, CEO Tag Heuer said, “You don’t buy a $20,000 watch to tell you what time it is. Time is everywhere. You buy it because it is a piece of art. And art is eternity.”
Boomers vs Millennials
Ask a baby-boomer to tell you the time and they are likely to look at their wrist. Ask the same question to a Millennial and they will check their phone. The Apple Watch will get the younger generation used to having something functional and sometimes expensive on their wrist. This gives a jewellery retailer an opening to discuss other, more stylish products to wear that will enhance their status and still tell the time. Be sure to have a nice selection of entry level mechanical watches on hand. If you can get them to make the transition, they will get hooked; giving rise to a whole new generation of watch collectors
For boomer customers, a little creativity can turn an Apple Watch into a profit stream. Offer enhancements like adding diamond pave or custom engraving to the Apple gold watches.
There is no need to see the Apple Watch as a threat. It is a completely different product from a fine mechanical watch but it can open the door to new sales for jewellery stores.