The classic watch industry finds itself in a squeeze. On the one hand, we see that it has become less common for younger generations to wear wristwatches, while on the other hand technological newcomers such as Apple Watch and Pebble are winning market share. How does the traditional watch industry that is characterized by tradition and craftsmanship react to these technology-driven trends?
Bearing in mind the sector’s desire to keep honoring the key values of tradition and authenticity, unsurprisingly the answer is slowly but surely.
We are now starting to see promising innovative examples of how this sector is adapting to current trends. Frederique Constant, a Swiss brand of classic timepieces, has just introduced its Horological Smartwatch, a traditional wristwatch with software inside that connects to the smartphone. It offers functionality such as sleep monitoring and activity tracking.
Swiss luxury watchmaker Breitling has introduced its Exospace B55 Connected model that connects with a smartphone enabling receipt of notifications for email, messages or telephone calls. It can also display the day’s next appointment in hours and minutes. Both the watch and the smartphone app are Swiss made.
Montblanc, a high-end manufacturer of classic luxury goods, is definitely taking up the challenge of embracing new technological trends. The company’s watch division has recently introduced the e-Strap for its TimeWalker model. The innovative bracelet of this classic Montblanc watch contains wearable technology that connects to the mobile phone and allows you to read previews of email, read text messages and see calendar entries.
Frederique Constant, Montblanc and Breitling have innovation running through their veins. They dare to look beyond their traditional products and business model while staying true to their core values. They are finding new opportunities and new ways for adding value to their customers.
The sector perfectly understands that there are people that greatly enjoy traditional watches and luxury goods, while at the same time appreciating technological advance. The watch industry is starting to marry technology and tradition through innovation. Will it be a marriage of convenience or will it become a marriage of love? Time will tell.
© Ernst-Jan van Batenburg, FlyWheel Business
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