Smartwatches now more popular than Swiss watches
While the popularity of smartwatches is growing dramatically, consumer interest in Swiss watches is waning. That's largely due to a reluctance on the part of the Swiss firms to embrace emerging wearable tech, which in addition to telling time lets wearers place calls, send and receive emails, and check their stocks and blood pressure. Swiss shipments declined 5 percent in the quarter compared with the same quarter in 2014, while smartwatch shipments rose 316 percent over the same time.
"The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away."
The predicament that the Swiss watch industry faces appears to fulfill a forecast reportedly made nearly two years ago by Apple's chief designer. The New York Times reported in 2014 that Jony Ive said that the luxury watch market would be in "trouble" after the debut of the then-unannounced Apple Watch.
One watchmaker trying to buck the trend is Tag Heuer. In November, the Swiss maker of luxury timepieces released its Connected Watch, which is powered by Google's Android Wear operating system. But the 155-year-old company still accounted for just 1 percent of the global market during the fourth quarter, far behind Apple's 63 percent and Samsung's 16 percent.