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Home >Technology >Gadgets >Move over Swiss watches, it’s now Apple’s time

New Delhi: Call it the horologist’s nightmare, but convenience has trumped posh. Millennials are strapping on Apple Watches rather than storied Swiss-made timepieces—the benchmark for luxury—in keeping with these multi-tasking times.

Shipments of Apple Watch, launched in 2015 as a “groundbreaking health and fitness companion", have crossed those of Swiss watches. Apple shipped 30.7 million units of its ubiquitous watches worldwide in 2019 against the 21 million units moved by the entire Swiss watch industry, market researcher Strategy Analytics reported on Wednesday.

This is seen as the American brand Apple upending the legacy Swiss watch brands such as Rolex, Omega and Longines that have for decades drawn the rich and powerful with their pricey, bejewelled and exquisite products.

Millennial consumers are seeking devices that reflect their lifestyle and encapsulate their experiences, said analysts and brand experts.

“The way the world is moving today, you would wear a device which isn’t just an accessory, and that’s why all wearables, including the Apple Watch, are doing well," said Dheeraj Sinha, managing director-India and chief strategy officer-South Asia at advertising agency Leo Burnett.

The Apple Watch is synonymous with utility, offering connected 21st century lifestyle that is centred around tracking your activities and experiences. “For consumers today," Sinha said, “it isn’t about money but experiences they are able to capture with their wealth."

Moreover, the Apple Watch ties in with Apple’s long-term strategy of creating a full stack of products and services built around its landmark IoS platform.

“Analog wristwatches remain popular among older consumers, but younger buyers are tipping towards smart watches and computerized wrist wear," Neil Mawston, executive director, Strategy Analytics, said in a report titled Apple Watch Outsells Entire Swiss Watch Industry.

“Overtime, watches have moved from being a vanity product to a more utility product. This is especially true in the age of smartphones," said Jaipal Singh, associate research manager, client devices, International Data Corporation (IDC) India, a global provider of market intelligence services.

In India, Apple Watches start at 20,900, while the latest Series 5 starts at 49,900.

In India, the story is slightly different. Here, value-conscious shoppers are buying affordable fitness bands sold by companies such as Xiamoni’s MI, Samsung and Fitbit that cost anywhere between 1,500 and 20,000.

The share of smart watches in India—of the overall wearable devices—stood at only 6.9% in the second quarter of 2019, according to estimates by IDC.

Indian smart watch shipments in the second quarter of 2019 stood at 0.21 million units, according IDC. “Fossil made a return after struggling with stock issues and became the leading wearable watch brand with 34% category share," IDC said in a September note.

The Apple Watch was launched in March 2015 as its “most personal device yet and the newest innovative addition to Apple’s ecosystem". It called the watch “an intimate and immediate communication device and a groundbreaking health and fitness companion".

The watch comes with a full stack of features—it not only navigates, but also tracks fitness, monitors health. The subsequent versions allowed users access to iTunes and Apple TV—services that are cherished by millennials.

Over the years it also collaborated with Nike and luxury label Hermes to merge technology with fashion and sports.

In November 2019, the Apple Watch had managed a 48% share in the global smart watch market, trumping competitors such as Samsung, Fitbit and Pebble. “A blend of attractive design, user-friendly tech and sticky apps makes the Apple Watch wildly popular in North America, Western Europe and Asia," the Strategy Analytics report said.

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