Do I wind it? Do I change the battery? Do I charge it? These are the questions, well at least questions that watch aficionados ask!
A principle fear of those who are traditional watch lovers is that with the advent of smartwatches and their eventual dominance, they might finally render traditional mechanical watches, once and for all, extinct.
What that statement means, I think, is that the dominance of smartwatches will solidify a longer future for the traditional watch industry.
A Little History
Some feel that the current “threat” from smartwatches is akin to the “quartz crisis” that almost destroyed (but didn’t!) the mechanical watch industry some decades ago and there are undoubtedly some parallels worth considering.
In the late 1960s, quartz watches were debuted in then very expensive watches such as the Seiko Astron. If your watch posted anything about it having to do with quartz, it was considered to be a valued piece.
This was less than a decade after tuning fork “electric” watches were a new and also pricey trend for those wanting to free themselves of having to wind a watch.
Most people throughout the 20th century had manually wound watches, and to have a battery that could last for several months seemed like an upgrade from having to remember to wind their watch and the daily “chore” of doing so.
Nonetheless, after a short period of having turning fork watches, an accuracy- and durability-obsessed public was excited enough about quartz watches that the post-World War II. Japan saw them as a great thing to mass produce in order to help fund their hungry need to rebuild so much of their society.
In the same way, I believe the smartwatch market – that will replace the mainstream watch market in the coming years, will create a space for luxury watches.
When most people wore watches in the past, it was natural to have a high-end watch culture because watches were a common item.
Today, watches are more or less worn by only three types of people considering, again, that all types of people use smartphones.
These three types of people who tend to wear watches are: first, and most obviously, the people who need them at work, ranging from nurses to Navy SEALs. Then, you have collectors like those who are fascinated by ultra-well-made timepieces and are willing to pay a premium for carefully made goods. Finally, you have status seekers who use watches as a means of gaining attention or sending a message.
Don’t forget, as much as some stubborn watch enthusiasts refuse to call smartwatches “watches,” they are still watches as far as we are concerned.
People like luxury watches because they are cool, attention-getting toys with communicative value about what makes them unique as individuals.
What people will need to decide and something that I think hasn’t been really figure out yet, and for good reason, is how traditional watch lovers and collectors of high-end timepieces will be able to naturally integrate their love of “old-style watches” with modern connected watches.
I know several watch collectors personally and they each collect them for some of the same reason, mainly as an investment. Then they have their different reasons, as well, one being, “Having something to pass on to his son.”
As I have often said in the past, mechanical watches are not becoming more obsolete, they are still here and doing well in the market place.
So as for the love of these mechanical, precision marvels, we love them so much now why would that change in the future? What enthusiasts will need to decide is which one they will be wearing. That’s something to think about and each individual enthusiast will have to figure that out for themselves.
How will your traditional watch lovers and collectors of high-end timepieces be able to naturally integrate their love of “Old-Style Watches” with the modern connected watches?
Whatever the reason, I am confident in it that while the world of high-end watches will by virtue need to remain a niche and boutique (which likely means a contraction in size of what the industry is today), it will have a permanent place in the market.
Mechanical watches will continue to be available for those enthusiasts who will inevitably find out about them so long as the wrist remains an important place for the modern technology and information.
If you enjoyed the information shared here, leave a comment below.
If you have a question, leave it below and I will get back to you with an answer.