Swiss watch industry trails Apple yet again

Another year passes, another year in which Apple Watches outsell Swiss-made – but the numbers paint a more complex picture. Image Courtesy -
February 11th, 2020 – By Arabella Roden

According to a new report by US market research firm Strategy Analytics, the Apple Watch sold more units in 2019 than all Swiss watch manufacturers combined.

Based on its analysis of both markets, the firm concluded that 30.7 million Apple Watches were sold in 2019, compared with 21.1 million Swiss watches. Apple leads the smartwatch category, with an estimated market share of 36 per cent, according to Forbes. As previously reported by Jeweller, research first indicated smartwatch shipments outpaced Swiss watch exports in early 2016. “Strategy Analytics concluded that 30.7 million Apple Watches were sold last year, compared with 21.1 million Swiss watches”

Steven Waltzer, senior analyst Strategy Analytics, said the number of Apple Watches sold in 2019 had increased by 36 per cent from 2018, with the majority of sales coming from North America, Western Europe and Asia. Meanwhile, the number of Swiss watches exported fell 13 per cent, from 24.2 million in 2018. The industry’s largest markets are Hong Kong, the US, and Mainland China, followed by Japan and the UK. “Traditional Swiss watch makers, like Swatch and Tissot [which is owned by Swatch Group], are losing the ‘smartwatch wars’,” Waltzer said. “The window for Swiss watch brands to make an impact in smartwatches is closing.

Time may be running out for Swatch, Tissot, TAG Heuer, and others.” TAG Heuer began manufacturing its Connected smartwatch range in 2015, the same year the Apple Watch was released. Other Swiss brands, including Frédérique Constant, Mondaine and Alpina, also make smartwatches alongside mechanical. In addition, according to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH), the value of Swiss watch exports reached CHF21.7 billion ($AU33.2 billion) in 2019, surpassing a record set in 2015. Meanwhile, according to Apple’s most recent SEC filings, its wearables, home and accessories products – including Apple Watch, AirPod and Beats headphones, HomePod assistant, and Apple accessories – accounted for $10 billion of its revenue in Q4 of 2019.

The company does not declare separate sales figures for its Apple Watch. While Apple might sell more units than the Swiss brands combined, it is unlikely that it also achieves higher revenue when taking into account unit costs. Apple’s devices retail for $US199–$US499 for a standard model; if Strategy Analytics’ estimates are accurate, Apple’s revenue from its smartwatches would total $US6.1–15.3 billion ($AU9–23 billion) – significantly less than the Swiss watch industry at $AU33.2 billion.


Disclaimer: This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.


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