Being a fan of all things mechanical and analog, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I immensely appreciate watches. I particularly appreciate the work of Grand Seiko watchmakers. I have struggled to embrace the Apple Watch fully, as I like wearing my beloved Grand Seiko. None of my friends have such problems — they are all in on Apple’s wrist computer. And like everyone else, I thought Apple Watch would impact the watch industry, but I didn’t see this twist in the tale.
According to investment bank Morgan Stanley estimates, in 2020, the Swiss watch exports were around $18 billion and $24 billion in 2021. The exports went up to $26 billion in 2022. Apple is estimated to have sold between $14 billion to $18 billion worth of watches in 2022.
In 2022, the FH reported that Swiss exports totaled 15.8 million units, just above the all-time low of 13.8 million in 2020. It’s nearly half of the 28 million units exported in the halcyon pre-Apple Watch effect days of 2015.
While the Apple Watch is often given much of the credit (or blame) for decimating the low end, others have taken the opposite position, instead giving the smartwatch credit for bringing attention back to the wrist. An executive I recently spoke with at Piaget for a separate story credited the Apple Watch for increasing the “wrist awareness” of consumers.