Swatch Co-Inventor: Watch Industry Headed For ‘Ice Age’ Thanks To Apple Watch

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According to Swatch co-inventor Elmar Mock, Apple’s upcoming Apple Watch could bring financial pain for the low end of Switzerland’s watch industry.

Mock believes that the Apple Watch will put a lot of pressure on the watch industry and jobs in Switzerland. In an interview, Mock told Bloomberg:

“Anything in the price range of 500 francs to 1,000 francs ($500-$1,000) is really in danger. I do expect an Ice Age coming toward us.”

Mock recalled the “quartz crisis” of the 1970s and 1980s, which prompted the development of plastic Swatch watches. Swatch watchmakers failed to anticipate the public demand for less-costly quartz watches, leading to a loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Mock said:

“So far I see watchmakers in this country making the same mistakes as back then. We’ve seen a lot of arrogance in the Swiss watch industry in the past few years, calling the smartwatch a gadget and not taking it seriously.”

Mock has been vocal among Apple Watch critics, saying that he does not believe that smartwatches are the next revolution. Even though he said that Apple will likely disrupt the watch industry with the Apple Watch, Mock is still hopeful that Swiss watchmakers will not suffer as much as they did in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Apple Watch starts at $449 for the smaller aluminium Sport model, and the stainless steel versions start at $699 with several models coming in at over $1000. The high-end 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition will start at $13,000 with some models costing as much as $22,000. Apple has announced that the device will be available for pre-order starting on April 10 and will start shipping on April 24 to several countries including Canada.

A software engineer with a passion for creation and innovation using technology. To learn more about me, check out my personal website, which contains links to my projects. Email: nick@iphoneincanada.ca

  • Travis Pelley

    Too bad…it’s called progress and innovation. Deal with it.

  • Oldsears

    I still think that there will be a market for non-smart watches. I can’t see parting for example with a gold1952 Omega Seamaster that I inherited from my dad. It was refurbished, works great after 63 years. Doesn’t need batteries since it is self winding, accurate to perhaps a second or two (who cares for microseconds). Note that I’m a big fan of Apple and plan to get an Apple Watch but I don’t think an Apple watch will be worth much in 60 years and not much either in 5 years. I can’t see spending more than for the $449 for the basic Sport model. It would seem to be a total waste of money to pay $10k for something that will be obsolete in less than a few years. I think what people forget is that this is not going to be a collectable (could be wrong) but if they make better ones every year and even perhaps with wireless (LTE) access (if the technology evolves, battery especially) the next gen Apple Watch could completely bypass the iPhone. In my view this year’s model is not going to be around for very long.

  • Salinger

    What an absolutely ridiculous comment.

    Sorry, but there’s no way the Apple Watch is going to have much of an impact on people who want a REAL watch.

    If someone is going to spend $500+ on a watch, they’re not going to want one that is little more than a gadget and going to be obsolete in a couple of years. While not the upper echelon of watches, if you’re in the $500 price territory, you’re going to get a fairly decent watch with some pretty nice materials. $500 with Apple gets you aluminum and a rubber strap. Not to mention, you may not even get through a full day without charging.

    I think the traditional watch industry is quite safe.

  • Salinger

    I’m not sure what you mean by “bypass the iPhone” but given that it requires an iPhone to even function, that seems unlikely to happen.

  • Stefan

    I disagree. I think that “REAL” watch industry has 2 years max to adapt and start creating smart watches or they are going fail. I mean sure, some people will still want to buy a mechanical watch but I think that the percentage is going to be low.

    Also, I do not think that it is nice of you to imply that smart watches are not real or fake watches because they are real. REAL watch does not exist. There is only a watch and a smart watch.

    Moreover, you are saying that smart watches are going to get obsolete but you fail to recognize that “REAL” watches are obsolete for the past 200 years at least.

  • Salinger

    Not nice of me? Sorry, you do realize we’re talking about a THING here, right? A piece of metal and plastic on a strap; not a person or even a puppy. If I hurt smart watch’s feelings, I’m sure they’ll let me know.

    You honestly believe that traditional (PC enough?) watches are going to be all but non-existent in a couple of years? Not even maybe.

    You may be too young to remember the early digital watches. They too were all the rage some years ago and people also bemoaned the demise of the traditional watch. How many people do you see now who wear a Casio digital watch?

    Sure, smart watches can do more, but in the case of the Apple watch, it can only perform its functions with another $1,000 piece of tech in your pocket. Heck, it doesn’t even show you the time until you touch it!

    How is a REAL/traditional/mechanical/quartz/timepiece (pick your desired moniker) watch obsolete? Its purpose? Tell time. As long as it does that, it’s accomplishing the purpose for which it was bought. And whether I bought it 20 years ago, or go out and buy one today, it does the exact same thing. It is the very antithesis of obsolete. You do have me curious though, what device was in use in the 1820’s that made the watch obsolete?

    What do you think you’ll get for your first gen $1,200 Apple watch 3 years from now? I can sell a good quality traditional watch from 10 years ago and still get back pretty much what I paid for it, perhaps significantly more depending on the make or model.