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Apple Watch And The Threat To Rolex
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BillB031
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BillB031,
User Rank: Moderator
9/11/2014 | 8:16:15 AM
Digital watch vs Rolex??
Where does the Author get these ideas for a story?...  I don't own a Rolex, but I do own a Breitling Navitimer.  The reason people buy these watches is because of pure mechanical Art. 

So no,  Nothing digital will replace these watches.  Replace a Timex, Seiko, other junk watches?, yes.   Replace a Rolex? hell no.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 9:02:20 AM
Re: Digital watch vs Rolex??
"Pure mechanical art" -- that's a wonderful way to describe the appeal. I don't own a Rolex either, but I do own a Stuhrling watch that I absolutely love, and I think you've captured part of the reason. But I think of how BMW once resisted putting lots of big cupholders in its cars, since driving was supposed to be about the driving experience, not being distracted by drinking coffee or, gads, a Big Gulp. Today, BMW has a $100 million fund to invest in mobile apps. If the purist market shrinks by some notable share, then success could come to the companies that can keep the allure of mechanical art while effectively -- perhaps meaning invisibly -- blending in the digital element. 
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
9/12/2014 | 1:34:44 AM
Re: Digital watch vs Rolex??
I hope this doesn't mean that the other kids will laugh at me because I still wear a Timex. But seriously, now that most people carry a smartphone that, of course, can tell you what time it is, what is the purpose of a watch? A piece of you body's real-estate - your wrist, is now open for a new tenant. But, other than making it possible to access some of the smartphone's functions while it is ensconced in your pocket, this whole concept of a smartwatch just doesn't seem all that compelling.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
9/12/2014 | 7:48:48 AM
Re: Digital watch vs Rolex??
At the current price point, smart watches aren't compelling enough for me to go out and buy one but as you mentioned being able to access some of the smart phone functions without removing it from my pocket would be the one reason I want to try one.  Even having it sitting on my desk I have to stop what I'm doing, pick up the phone and see who just texted me and if I need to get back to them right away.  If my watch could flash up at least part of the message all I have to do is look down and twist my wrist a little.  Also mapping software would be great for when I'm traveling and walking around.  I hate taking my phone out and stopping to avoid walking into things.  Maybe I use my smart phone a little differently but I think the quick glance at snippets of data would greatly reduce my smartphone screen time.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/12/2014 | 9:43:18 AM
Re: Digital watch vs Rolex??
I'm with you Gary, I still wear a watch, since I hate pulling out my phone for a quick time check. Professionaly, it's very practical for meetings -- I can glance at my watch during an interview or team meeting, and either it goes unnoticed or the person knows I'm just checking the time, but if I pull out my phone they wonder "why is he checking messages during our discussion? How rude." 

I agree that this supreme do-all digital watch isn't a huge lure, but I do think a watch that does Time Plus Something will appeal. That wrist real estate is super handy, so putting time plus that one single thing you highly value or do a lot will appeal (Time + Texts from my wife and kids; Time + My Fitness Goal ...).

Apple couldn't bet on that one thing, because it's only making one watch, so it had to throw all those things in. Watchmakers can specialize their digital tools to do that one thing perfectly.

   

 
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 10:40:09 AM
Packing technology into a Rolex is nothing new
You can see it in the product image displayed above, for the Submariner watch boasting water-resistence to 3,000 feet 1000 feet/300 meters. Rolex has been packing exotic features into its watches for a long time, but doing so with a restrained sense of style. The point of Chris's column is not that Rolex lovers will give up their treasured item in favor of an Apple Watch but that Rolex (and every other product creator) needs to be thinking about the role embedded software will need to play in their future products.

That doesn't mean the next new Rolex watch will look or function anything like an Apple Watch, but you can bet Rolex engineers are thinking hard about what digital technologies will make sense in their products of the future - and how to introduce them in a way that avoids alienating the customer base that loves its mechanical purity.
BillB031
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BillB031,
User Rank: Moderator
9/11/2014 | 12:18:54 PM
Re: Packing technology into a Rolex is nothing new
The "submariner" has boasted 300meters depth (I assume thats what you meant)  for 60 years.  The appeal of the rolex (10k & up as the author puts it), is the mechanical automatic movements that do not utilize batteries.   

They do however have a less expensive quartz line that maintains the rolex style.  I could see "smartwatching" one of those, but they will never do that to the "mechanical" timepieces, which are the sought after watches they are known for.  Won't happen..
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 12:27:47 PM
Re: Packing technology into a Rolex is nothing new
Rolex is more than 100 years old and probably has a good chance of being around for another 100 or two. I'm sure you're right that they will be resistant to fads, but they didn't get this far by ignoring new technologies, just by choosing them carefully.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 12:50:54 PM
Re: Packing technology into a Rolex is nothing new
I've seen a number of articles today (Wall Street Journal, Daily Beast, Reuters) discussing the competition for Swiss watchmakers. All of them just assume it's today's Swiss watch vs. the Apple Watch. None of them raise the notion that Swiss watchmakers could innovate using software. 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 1:46:26 PM
Re: Packing technology into a Rolex is nothing new
Chris captures the crux of the worry for the Rolexes of the world quite well. What happens when the user decides he wants Apple Pay on his Rolex, which he is not interested in giving up? Who's in charge -- Apple, or Rolex? The software companies, or the car makers?
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 7:23:39 PM
Re: Packing technology into a Rolex is nothing new
Strangely enough, I think if Apple had designed a fully mechanical watch (maybe with an Bluetooth transmitter to make bio data available to iPhones) it would have been receieved at least as well as the Apple Watch and would have even broader appeal.
GregC438
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GregC438,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/11/2014 | 3:54:19 PM
Re: Packing technology into a Rolex is nothing new
David... I own a Rolex Submariner, Datejust and date.  I also own an old Tudor from the 70's along with a Speedmaster.  I am your classic watch fanatic that studied everything Rolex.  I put on a Pebble watch 9 months ago and not one of my mechanical watches have been on my wrist since.  Everytime I try to put my sub on I end up taking it right off.  The Pebble is so useful to me as a professional.  Lately I have been considering selling my watch collection... that is how hooked I am on smart watches.

For the past 50 years Rolex had nothing to fear.  The secret to their success is that they haven't changed.  That is why so many people are drawn to rolex... the fact that they haven't changed.  Yes, they changed their movements over the years but the outside has remained the same.  Going from acrylic crystal to saphire crystal is about the extent of their cosmetic advancements.  I will admit, the made a lot of changes lately with their case shape and clasps but this is not enough to compete with a smart watch.  Once people realize what a smart watch can do for them, Rolex sales will suffer.  Trust me.
Some Guy
IW Pick
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Some Guy,
User Rank: Strategist
9/11/2014 | 11:47:26 AM
Rolex threatened by Apple Watch Edition, not Apple Watch
Apple also is marketing an 18-karat version of the Apple Watch, sub-branded the Apple Watch Edition. This is the the threat to Rolex, not the vanilla Apple Watch.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 1:30:20 PM
Evolving products in software; the rest of the world will catch on
Apple is a great example of a company that redefines a product through its software and by integrating external services into the software. It's leading in this space, not owning it forever. I assure you, even those devoted to pure mechanical art will find a way to incorporate software into a high end, digital version of their product. It will be necessary to survive. Americans excel at capturing and interpreting the wishes of consumer culture in software. The Swiss, the Germans, the Japanese and the rest of the world will catch on. Not sure when they'll be able to catch up.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
9/11/2014 | 2:15:41 PM
Rolex or Apple.
I foresee the competiton Rolex is going to face with the new Apple watch. Though why people would opt for smart watches when they have smart phones, tablets and all the latest technology in their hands? I would rather have a good old-fashioned (and ridiculously expensive) Rolex watch instead for its symbolic grandeur. But Apple watch will be a favorite for the gadget lovers who are absolutely obsessed with technology to the point of having their bills paid by a watch. ( I am not one of them)

By the way I came across an interesting comment on facebook:
''I think Apple watch battery will last forever: it is powered by Steve Jobs spinning in his grave after seeing how ugly it is''
GregC438
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GregC438,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/11/2014 | 3:41:24 PM
Time is changing!
There is an old saying... when the outside world is changing faster than the inside of your company, you are doomed for failure.  Nobody loves watches more than me.  I have a collection of 3 Rolex, an Omega Speedmaster and a Tudor (rolex's cousin).  I have been facinated with mechanical watches and wore one on my wrist for nearly two decades.  That is until my Pebble watch came along.  I can't put a Rolex back on my wrist because a simple Pebble does so much more for me as a professional.  The Apple watch is much more advanced than my Pebble so I am looking forward to the upgrade.  My point is that if Rolex isn't nervous they better be.  They made a name for themself by sticking to the same formula for 50 years and it worked.  They made very slight changes to their line over the years and it worked.  I really think their time is running out because of technology.  Apple and technology destroyed a lot of industries.  Think about it... who would buy a digital copy when they would rather buy a physical CD or DVD?  Yet somehow itunes and the ipod nearly destroyed the music industry.  The outside world is changing and a simple time piece, no matter how beautiful or expensive, will soon be outdated and useless if it can't keep up.  And for those that think a smart watch connected to their phone is useless or a waste needs to actually try one.  I love my smartwatch and can't live without it.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
9/11/2014 | 5:52:44 PM
Re: Apple Watch And The Thread To Rolex
I think Chris is right on the money with the idea behind this article. "Software" is no longer a compartmentalized idea that refers to 'the stuff that powers computers'. It probably hasn't been for a long time, but the apple watch is a wakeup call - "software" now refers to the stuff that powers just about everything. Let that sink in. Everything. In the world. That being said, I think BillB031 and other dissenters also have a valid point - there are some places digital just won't take over - even if Apple wills it. It's completely fair to suggest high-end watches might be one of those places.

I think both these points have merit, in their own rights, and don't necessarily contradict each other. I think they're also still both correct when you extrapolate them to their larger meanings. Companies ought to take a close look at what 'software' means to them, or risk being left behind. At the same time, there's a whole world out there of people that still don't use the internet daily. Now, software definitely still touches their daily lives in some way they don't realize - but it might very well not be their watches, or plenty of other products. There are some niche industries that will remain true for in our lifetime, I think.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
9/11/2014 | 7:21:13 PM
the swiss?
>None of them raise the notion that Swiss watchmakers could innovate using software. 

They could but I think there's a reason US software companies, particularly Apple, Google, and Microsoft, have done so well. Good software design is difficult. I cannot think of a single software application from a hardware vendor (except perhaps TiVo) that I enjoy using. This becomes particularly obvious anytime you use an application designed by a printer company. It's invariably awful.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
9/12/2014 | 1:41:09 PM
Fail to see the point
I ask for very little from my watch: I want to know what time it is, and sometimes how much more time I have or how much time has elapsed.  And it's sometimes useful to set an alarm.  I can do all of that from my existing very stupid digital watch (but it needs a new band).  It certainly doesn't need networl access.  A cellular phone is large enough that it's possible to type and convenient to push icons; a watch that is actually going to fit on one's wrist isn't and that is the difference.

 
zaious
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zaious,
User Rank: Ninja
9/13/2014 | 12:55:30 PM
Wristwatches will need a comeback
I do not think Rolex users will switch to iWatch, the Rolex users are a different group of consumers.

However, right now I see many people who do not use any wristwatch. They just simply pull out the phone from the pocket and glance at it. I will see how people will get back to their old habits. 

Similarly, due to rise of cheap wristwatches, usually muggers will not take your watch. Let's see if this changes with people carrying iWatches.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
9/14/2014 | 10:25:45 AM
Re: Wristwatches will need a comeback
Indeed, Rolex consumers are (for the most part) a different demographic.  I am a bit of a watch aficionado and frequent the watch forums as well.  Once you start getting into the $5,000+ category of watches it is all about form and not function.  The true collectors appreciate those watches because of the beauty of the mechanical movements, and have no desire for it to be part of the IOT.  And in truth Rolex is on the low end of luxury watches when you start talking about Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, etc.  These swiss manaufacturers will never compromise their mechanical timepieces by having some hoky electronics put into it.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
9/16/2014 | 12:40:19 AM
Re: Wristwatches will need a comeback
@progman2000,

I agree with your post. And here are some interesting numbers from last year:
Mechanical Watch market share is 77 %
Electronic Watch market share is just 23 %

I won't disclose my preferences in wrist watches, but I believe those who prefer an electronic watch are the most likely to switch to a smartwatch, don't you think?
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/16/2014 | 11:51:10 AM
Re: Wristwatches will need a comeback
I agree. What I wonder is if there will increasingly be a category that falls in between -- mechanical, with just a dash of software. Our cars have certainly moved that way, with more software added to the mechanical piece all the time. 
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
9/16/2014 | 7:10:29 PM
Re: Wristwatches will need a comeback
@Mark63,

I'm curious, where did you get those numbers?  I would have thought mechanical watches would have a small percentage of market, especially if we are calling G-Shock type watches electronic.  Am I misreading that?

And yes I would think the electronic market would be more likely to switch than mechanical, but also think the lions share initial will be apple oriented techno types who might not even have a current watch.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
9/15/2014 | 10:00:11 AM
Depends....
I think it depends on whether or not a software-driven watch is able to offer something compelling such that everyone wants that one thing.

BlackBerry (a.k.a "CrackBerry") brought corporate e-mail and calendaring to phones.  It was wildy popular with business but monthly service costs kept the average associate and consumers out of the loop.  When the iPhone appeared, it didn't need special gateways and costs to deliver calendaring and e-mail.  It also redefined how customers thought of data and accessing the Internet on a phone.  (Remember Apple's TV ads when they talked about their phone offering the "full web"?)  Once the app scene exploded, feature phones were history and BlackBerry and Microsoft failed to understand the shift.  

Regrettably, Apple's watch is a forced accessory for iPhones.  While I understand the strategy to drive phone sales, this is a missed opportunity.  Under Jobs, Apple seemed content to allow phones to replace iPods and also realized requiring a Mac to use iTunes was a mistake.  It's also a mistake to require an iPhone instead of integrating with all phones (well, at the very least Android).  Android is the 800lb Gorilla in the room and Apple just excluded it.  If their watch achieves something compelling, why would they want someone else to satisfy that craving for 80% (or more) of the market?  For this fact alone, I think Rolex and everyone else will have time to react when Apple's watch manages to offer a compelling feature that everyone wants.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
9/17/2014 | 10:53:40 PM
Watch relevance

You raise an interesting point, I was recently talking to some college students who didn't wear watches they thought they were antiquated and could get the time from their phone or tablet. They thought the idea of buying a high end time piece was ridiculous. The numbers may very well shift from mechanical to smart watched over the next twenty years and luxury brands will need to decide if they will remain the same if their market shrinks or simply disappears. I am curious how many people reading this are still wearing watches regularly or are you relying on your technology for time?



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