While Swatch co-inventor Elmar Mock doesn’t think Switzerland’s watch industry is completely doomed like Jony Ive reportedly does, he does see some potential dangers for Swiss watchmakers from Apple’s first wearable computer.
“Apple will succeed quickly,” the 61-year-old Swatch co-inventor tells Bloomberg. “It will put a lot of pressure on the traditional watch industry and jobs in Switzerland… Anything in the price range of 500 francs to 1,000 francs is really in danger. I do expect an Ice Age is coming toward us.”
This is a markedly different response from other Swiss watch executives we’ve heard from on the Apple Watch. Jean-Claude Biver — an icon in the Swiss watch industry who has had a highly distinguished career while working at Omega, Blancpain, and Hublot — said last year that “at present, the Apple Watch cannot compete at all with European watches,” though he did admit that the watch could be a legitimate threat if it gets thinner and more compact as technology improves.
Mock, however, tells Bloomberg that the Swiss watch industry is behaving “arrogantly” just as it did in the 1970s when it underestimated the appeal of lower cost watches coming from Japan. If that really is the case then Switzerland might really be in for a rude awakening.