Swatch versus Apple Watch. The battle lines are drawn. On one side, the plastic fantastic watch that saved the Swiss watch industry from the clutches of the quartz crisis. On the other, the watch that made analogue watches obsolete. The conflict between the two types of watches reveals the future of wrist-borne horology. Let the battle begin . . .
What the Swatch Represents
Once the digital watch arrived, once the smart phone arrived, once the Apple Watch arrived, analogue watches were utterly outclassed on the time-telling front. And liberated from it. They became jewelry.
People bought – and buy – a Swatch because it’s a fashion statement, no less so than a Patek Philippe Nautilus. A Swatch doesn’t tell the time as much as it tell others – and yourself – who you are.
Lucky for Swatch, fashionability is an endlessly moving target. That’s why they crank out a never-ending stream of new products, employing in-house designers and hooking-up with fashion brands making hay while the chic sun shines.
As a fashion statement, a Swatch watch represents the now. Equally, it’s a personal proclamation. As such, it is the standard bearer for all analogue watches – even the ones supposedly selling minimalist classicism.
What the Apple Watch represents
The Apple Watch is the logical extension of the digital watch, which transformed horology from a mechanical representation of information to “pure” information. In other words, the delivery system became less important than the information itself.
And so it is with the Apple Watch. The watch itself is meaningless. The case and its vibrations, the feel of the buttons, the ergonomics of the strap – they’re all designed to draw zero attention to themselves. All that matters is the information on the screen. How it looks. How it works. What it does.
Wearing an Apple Watch has nothing to do with telling time. It’s about using time.
Traditional watch wearers are offended by this idea. They sense that the Apple Watch exerts unprecedented – and for them unwanted – control over the wearer’s life.
They’re not wrong. The Apple Watch does indeed represent surrender to The Matrix – integration into all the Internet has to offer. Which is, let’s face it, limitless.
Because of its purpose-driven life, the Apple Watch make one fashion statement and one fashion statement only: I’m connected. I’m not alone. In this, it represents all smartwatches.
Swatch vs. Apple Watch – The Future
If we accept that the Swatch represents all traditional watches and the Apple Watch represents all smartwatches, Swatch versus Apple Watch, which one will prevail?
That question’s been answered. In the first quarter of 2o20, the Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry’s 2019 output. We’re talking 30m Apple Watches. There’s no reason to believe the future will look any different.
That said, the human need to project individuality – both personally and as a member of a collective [sic] – remains. Hermès strap or not, titanium case or steel, an Apple Watch is an Apple Watch is an Apple Watch. Same for round Wear OS wanna-be’s.
So Swatch has an answer to the Apple Watch: keep being Swatch. Not only because it can’t be anything else, but also because it’s the best choice for someone who doesn’t want to be connected to the ‘net – by more than their phone.
Yes, there is that. As long as smartphones exist, watch buyers don’t 100 percent need an Apple Watch. Even if, technically, they don’t need a phone. The question is how much do they want it? Again, the market has spoken.