Rumor has it that with the release of the Apple Watch Edition, the end of the era of expensive mechanical watches will begin. But can smart watches, even standing $17 thousand, become a new sign of status? Everything can be.

Imagine: the younger generation, perhaps in a completely different way, will begin to perceive the concept of «luxury” and will invest in it a new meaning. For those who will grow up in the future, a legacy of mechanical watches from Cartier or IWC may seem like junk, not even antiques.

What about the Apple Watch? As is the case with many other smartwatches, they can be used to dictate a response to a message, view the weather forecast, and look for the address of a suitable restaurant while traveling. At the same time, for their optimal work, you still need an iPhone, otherwise many of the functions will simply not be available.

There are already many models of different smart watches on the market. But none of the manufacturers has positioned their gadget in this way, aiming it at the luxury goods market, moreover, at its consumers of both sexes. Here’s an example: as part of the Apple Watch presentation last September, the company invited fashion editors from around the world to events. And at Paris Fashion Week, Jony Ive himself and his friend and colleague Mark Newson demonstrated a new gadget to real stars of the fashion industry, including the editor of Vogue magazine. Anna Wintour and creative director of fashion house Chanel Karl Lagerfeld. Finally, an Apple smartwatch graced the wrist of a model wearing a Céline dress, who appeared on the cover of the November issue of Chinese Vogue.

But the most important thing in this mess is just not PR, but Apple’s ambitions. After all, on a par with smart watches in the price category from $349 before $1099, with a huge selection of straps from silicone to steel, the company decided to launch a luxury version of the novelty, Edition. Its price just goes through the roof — from $10 thousand before $17 thousand. Extravagant consumers can choose from pink or yellow gold models with a huge range of straps.

Just to try on such a valuable piece, you will have to make an appointment in advance at an Apple specialty store (such a watch will not be sold in every Apple Store). Interestingly, at the moment it is unlikely that it will be possible to sign up for a fitting — as it turns out, there are so many who want to see how the Apple Watch Edition will look on their hand. Moreover, for those who may consider rose gold to be too simple an option, skilled jewelers are ready to offer their services in encrusting a gadget with precious stones and applying a special engraving. This is where it becomes clear what is the difference between a simple Apple Watch and their expensive counterpart. The question arises: what do the guys in Paris and Geneva think about this? Will they have to give up their craft of making handmade mechanical watches in the future and join the smart watch industry as a matter of urgency? After all, it seems that this is the only way they can stay in business.

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At the moment, their reaction resembles an attempt to brush off an annoying fly.

I don’t believe that [Apple Watch] somehow prevent our Hublot, Breitling and Patek from existing and being sold. You don’t buy a $20,000 watch just to watch. Time can be found anywhere. You are purchasing them because they are a work of art. And art is eternal.
Jean-Claude Biver, President of LVMH Watches and CEO of Tag Heuer

This is what is worth thinking about. No matter how expensive, encrusted, engraved and gold the Apple Watch Edition is, it can never be a product that people pass on to their heirs from generation to generation. And all for the same reason the Edition is said to outperform any expensive mechanical watch. This is not a mechanical watch, but a gadget. Accordingly, like any other gadget, like the iPhone or MacBook, the Apple Watch will become obsolete with the release of the next version of the device. But a mechanical watch, with proper care, can accurately function for decades, if not centuries. So think many who really understand this issue, and not just chasing fashion. By the way, Apple itself refused to comment on the issue of the lifespan of its smartwatches.

Of course, no one is trying to belittle the importance of new smartwatches, this industry is now on the crest of popularity. Yes, and you can not argue with the fact that the Apple Watch is looking forward to. People again started talking about watches, which, it would seem, have almost died out as an accessory for everyday life. Moreover, even Swiss brands have become interested in penetrating the smartwatch market. As part of the recent exhibition of watches and jewelry basel worldwhich is held in Basel, the Tag Heuer brand announced a partnership with such giants from Silicon Valley as Google and Intel. They decided to work together on the development of their own smart watches, which will be announced later this year.

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According to Mr. Beaver, their smartwatch should be an alternative to the Apple Watch Edition, only more affordable, but with similar connectivity and interaction features.

If I was going to sell you a watch for $10,000 to $20,000, I would burn with shame. Probably, on such watches it is worth putting a special warning for users (as on cigarettes — about harm to health). Something like “Think about it, this watch is not eternal!”
Jean-Claude Beaver

Electronic novelty from Tag will cost from $1000and a model in an ultra-light magnesium alloy or titanium case should be sold at $2500.

Moreover, the house of Tag Heuer is not the only one who intends to penetrate the smartwatch industry. For example, in January, Montblanc announced its new product — Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed ​​e-Strap. This gadget should appear on sale in June, and will cost about $400. In it, all the electronics will be placed in the strap itself, and it will already be possible to put it on any watch, and not only those made by Montblanc. This is the innovation of this product. And it also turns out that the watch itself will not have to be retired when the technology integrated into the strap becomes obsolete.

With all this, Alexander Schmidt, the head of the watch division at Montblanc, claims that such a move is just a nod to smartwatches. Such a decision will in no way interfere with the core business of the company.

The more [в носимых аксессуарах] technology will appear, the more consumers will appreciate the classics.
Alexander Schmidt, head of the Montblanc watch division

So, most likely, the crisis will not happen, mechanical chronometers and smart watches will be able to get along well with each other. That’s what he thinks Aurel Buckshead of the watch department at the auction house Philips.

Luxury smartwatches have a right to exist, as does Porsche with a hybrid engine. You can combine a modern, portable gadget with tradition and luxury. It’s like a person who drinks a $1,000 Bordeaux at dinner and can cheer up with an energy drink in the morning.
Aurel Bax, Head of Watchmaking at Philips

On the wrist of the user, whoever he is, there is only room for one watch. At least a man in his right mind will not wear more than one watch on his hand, unless, of course, he is an extreme eccentric. So everyone can make the most suitable choice for themselves. menswear designer for Club Monaco Aaron Levinfor example, is a strict conservative and prefers exclusively mechanical watches.

When I put on my mechanical watches, I always think about the painstaking work with miniature parts that makes such products possible. It’s amazing, it’s not just for you to put a chip. A wrist watch is the only precious accessory I wear besides my wedding ring. And I’m not going to change my habits.
Aaron Levin, owner of several vintage Rolexes and the Bulova Tank chronometer inherited from his father

And someone will choose for themselves the solution proposed by Mr. Bucks. Some smart watches as a sign of attention to modern technologies, and some mechanical ones as a tribute to the classics.

I would probably wear the Apple Watch during the day, and in the evening, going out, I would change them to the classic “mechanics”.
Tony King, CEO of King & Partners

Company King & Partners creates digital platforms and content for most luxury and fashion brands like Bentley or Akris. To replace your chronometer Panerai Radiomir Mr. King would buy, he says, an Apple Watch with a steel case and a black leather strap.

Christopher O’Neilla New York banker and collector of Rolex watches (he owns about 20), plans to acquire Apple Watch Sportto use this smart watch at the gym.

I am one of those old fashioned people who like to collect mechanical watches. And nothing can change that. And the Apple Watch is such a curiosity that can also bring benefits.
Christopher O’Neill

Everyone is different, and for more digitally savvy users who are accustomed to their smartphones, the Edition may prove to be more than just a technological curiosity. For example, Sky Jellatlyadvertising agency senior partner Team Epiphany, is seriously planning to buy an Edition. He doesn’t even care that this expensive wearable gadget is unlikely to replace his classic chronometer. Royal Oak Offshore from Audemars Piguet. Does Mr. Jellatly worry that over time his expensive smartwatch will become technically obsolete? Not really.

I don’t really care about the obsolescence of smartwatches. This is just the price of life with all the cutting-edge innovations. It’s like paying tens of thousands to get a manned flight into space on SpaceX. Those who buy such watches [Apple Watch], like to be the center of attention, and are ready to enjoy a product that harmoniously combines technology, useful features and design. After all, we are here to live well and we will not live forever.
Sky Jellatly

[WSJ]

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