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Will new generations wear watches?

More than half of 16-34 year-olds use a mobile phone as their main way to tell the time, according to a YouGov poll. With this generation expected to outspend baby boomers by 2017, attracting the business of the sector is viewed as the watch industry’s biggest challenge. And that’s even before considering the impact of wearable tech.

10 Apr 2016

The Apple Watch was said to herald the ice age for the luxury watch industry; chief executives in Switzerland were in a spin over the effect of affordable wearable tech on their age-old empires, especially having witnessed Apple decimate other industries. Things haven’t quite panned out that way since last year’s launch – after a slow start, market research predicts global smartwatch sales to reach £8.1bn in 2016, then jump to £12.3bn by 2019.

One of the reasons the ice age hasn’t materialised is the continued appeal of wristwatches as fashion accessories. Stretching to a high-end luxury watch might be out of reach for most millennials but the rise of the mid-market has given an opportunity to own a niche product that expresses personality. But with more and more luxury brands stepping into the space – the likes of Swarovski, Hermès and Michael Kors all investing in wearable tech – the category is evolving rapidly.

And that’s before the second iteration of the Apple Watch. The price of Apple’s original watch was cut in February and with every subsequent drop and new market entrant, the ubiquity of wearable tech will increase. ‘When someone creates a multi billion market overnight you know there’s demand,’ says Bremont’s Giles English on the launch of the Apple Watch. Although he doesn’t feel that it’s eating into his firm’s revenue yet, he appreciates that at some point the impact will be felt. ‘There’s definitely a fashion watch segment that will lose from it. The technology will become run of the mill and everyone will own one.’

Read more: The British watchmakers taking on the Swiss giants

This story is taken from Courier Apr/May 2016.