The co-inventor of Swatch, Elmar Mock, thinks that the Apple Watch will “succeed quickly” and is going to put a lot of pressure on the traditional watch industry in Switzerland.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Mock said that any company that primarily sells watches between the 500-1000 francs (~$500-$1000) price range is in danger due to the Apple Watch. He also said that the watch industry in Switzerland is underestimating the threat from the Apple Watch, and that they do not see the “Ice Age coming toward us.”
Mock said that the Swiss watch industry has become arrogant and he is reminded too strongly of the quartz crisis.
“Unfortunately, I’m reminded too strongly of the quartz crisis,” 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.”
The watch industry in Switzerland suffered a loss of 60,000 jobs in the 1970s and 80s when they underestimated the demand for the battery-powered Seiko watches from Japan. It was Mock’s mass-market Swatch watch that had saved the industry back then.
In the end, Mock expects the Apple Watch to have the most impact on the sales of the low-to-mid end watches. While entry-level offerings from high-end watch makers will also see a dip in sale, it will only be for the short-term at best.
“We do have the technology, and the Swiss watch industry hasn’t lost the competition,” Mock said. “I just hope the top managements of the companies will react accordingly. Apple won’t die if the smartwatch isn’t a success. But in the next two to three years, a part of the Swiss watch market will suffer strongly.”
Swatch’s CEO Nick Hayek had revealed earlier this year that the company will be unveiling its first smartwatch with NFC and mobile payment onboard later this year.