By Michelle Graff
michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com
Michelle-blogApple is not calling its first timepiece the “iWatch,” as we wrote many, many times but simply Apple Watch. Apple didn’t address why it dropped its iconic lowercase “i” but Entreprenuer.com offered a few plausible explanations in this article posted Tuesday.

So, it’s Apple Watch then. What does everyone think?

My first reaction was that it’s a great-looking watch that I would wear. It is not at all the sleek, futuristic and super-modern device that I pictured but, rather, just looks like a really clean, simple timepiece.

The New York Times described it as “stunning” and noted that has more in common with “luxury jewelry” than it does with other wearable technology devices. (Interestingly, the watch evoked different reactions around our office. Senior Editor Hannah Connorton described it as “hideous” when she was editing my story Wednesday morning while our left-handed ad sales manager David Stier lamented that it wasn’t made for southpaws.)

Apple Watch comes with a choice of straps, stainless steel mesh, link bracelet and leather among them, that are interchangeable and also something that traditional watches aren’t able to offer: 11 different faces. The watch is, as Apple put it, “incredibly customizable,” which we all know is extremely important to younger consumers.

Just as important is the fact that this watch is coming from Apple. Their products have a cult-like following, meaning that millions of people will purchase the watch simply because it has the word Apple in front of it. As journalist and author Dan Gardner (@dgardner) tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “It seems absolutely obvious to me that Apple’s watch is an absurd, near-useless device. Everyone will have three this time next year.”

But, how will this impact sales of non-smart watches? And, is there anyway jewelry store owners can get in on the Apple Watch action, as our “iWatch” expert Jan Brassem suggested here?

I stick by the assertion I made back in April after returning from Baselworld: the people who will buy Apple Watch weren’t going to invest in a traditional watch anyway. They get the time from their phones. They aren’t buying Apple Watch because they are thinking, “I need a watch,” but rather, “My phone and I are inseparable and I love the idea of having some of its functions right here on my wrist.”


But that doesn’t mean that Apple Watch won’t give some lift to the so-called smartwatch market as a whole and maybe, just maybe, get a younger generation interested in wrist-bound timekeeping again, even if the watches they choose will be exclusively “smart.” (I personally wear a watch because I find it a lot easier to look at the time with a flick of my wrist rather than rooting around in my enormous bag, trying to figure out which of the 10 pockets I used to stash my smartphone this time.)

[caption id="attachment_2524" align="aligncenter" width="728"]Apple-Watch-rotator Apple Watch consists of three collections, Apple Sport (left), Apple Watch and Apple Edition.[/caption]

Zurich-based luxury goods analyst Jon Cox of Kepler Cheuvreux said he sees minimal, temporary disruption for the Swiss watch industry from the launch of Apple Watch. He said while there is possible impact on watches priced at $1,000 or less, watches selling for more than that constitute 85 percent of the industry’s sales.

What’s more, he said he expects Swatch Group to enter the smartwatch market next year. “Of course,” Cox notes, “it won’t be an Apple but as the market for smartphones and MP3 players has shown, competitors can make a good living with copycats of Apple products.”

As for where Apple Watch will be sold, I asked the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant about this Tuesday: Are there any plans to partner with jewelry stores to sell Apple Watch? Or will they just sell online, in their stores and using the retailers that already are authorized Apple resellers, i.e., Target, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Radio Shack, etc.?

Apple’s answer: “We are not announcing where it will be available today.”

Retailers, would you carry Apple Watch in your stores, or any smartwatch for that matter, if given the chance?


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