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Apple Watch effect: Swiss watchmakers experience biggest sales drop in six years

Apple Watch: Swiss Watchmakers

If you need any proof as to the success and future potential of the Apple Watch, look no further than the Swiss watch industry. According to a recent report in Bloomberg, the Swiss watch industry is currently experiencing its biggest decline in six years.

Overall, watch shipments in October decreased by about 12%, with shipments to Hong Kong in particular falling by 39%. In the U.S., meanwhile, watch shipments from Swiss manufacturers fell by 12%.

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“The month had a challenging year-earlier comparison as exports rose 5.2 percent in October 2014, one of the biggest gains of that year,” the report notes. “Watch shipments, which make up about a 10th of Switzerland’s total exports, have declined 3.2 percent in the first ten months of 2015.”

The chart below highlights the immediate impact the Apple Watch had on the broader watch market. The Apple Watch was released in late April, and save for June, exports from Swiss watchmakers have fallen in every month since.

Though it seems to be happening slowly, it appears that Jony Ive’s 2014 prediction about the Apple Watch wreaking havoc on the Swiss watch industry might have been spot-on.

Recall this excerpt from The New York Times about 14 months back.

According to a designer who works at Apple, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, in bragging about how cool he thought the iWatch was shaping up to be, gleefully said Switzerland is in trouble — though he chose a much bolder term for “trouble” to express how he thought the watchmaking nation might be in a tough predicament when Apple’s watch comes out.

As for how the Apple Watch itself is doing, Apple still hasn’t released any sales figures for its new wearable. Still, Tim Cook has mentioned that the device, since its release, has sold more units with each successive quarter. With the busy holiday shopping season now in full swing, it stands to reason that Apple Watch sales will set a new quarterly record once Apple discloses its earnings results this coming January.

As a final point, it’s worth noting that initial sales of the Apple Watch were higher than what Apple saw with both the iPod and the iPhone.

“The Apple Watch sell-through was higher than the comparable launch periods of the original iPhone or the original iPad,” Tim Cook explained this past July during an earnings conference call.

Indeed, the iPod sales chart below demonstrates that new products often need time to ramp up before truly becoming mainstream hits.


Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.