It’s time for the Apple Watch to be more adventurous

In September 2014, Apple unveiled a connected watch in a just-nascent market. Samsung, Sony and Peeble have the lion’s share with devices that are nothing more than a rudimentary extension of the smartphone or a health assistant with very limited skills.

After months of rumors, the Apple Watch is a multifaceted product covering three very different sectors: sports, health and luxury. This triple attempt will not be a total success, but it is clear that Apple has become the undisputed leader of the smart watch. Even if his lead is comfortable, this first place is not engraved in stone. Competition is intensifying, as evidenced by the slight decline in its market share in 2021. Is it time to explore new avenues?

Apple dominates the connected watch market but its leadership is crumbling. Image: Counterpoint.

The bitter failure of luxury: when the clothes do not make the monk

Jony Ive and Marc Newson, faithful to their passion for luxury watches, were keen on it: the Apple Watch had to show off the Rolex, Panerai and other Patek Philippe! Sold like a real gem, the first Apple Watch was treated to materials (18-carat yellow or pink gold), marketing (ephemeral launch space at $25 million, surprise event at Colette during Paris fashion week, etc.) advertising campaigns that only major fashion, jewelry or watch brands traditionally offer each other over the seasons.

After the hysteria of the first months, the soufflé fell and the Apple Watch Edition, all dressed in gold, passed into oblivion. Today, only Maison Hermès carries the image of a luxury Apple Watch at arm’s length.

Presentation of the Apple Watch in preview at the Colette boutique in Paris in September 2014

What is missing from the Apple Watch to deserve its place in the seraglio of high-end watchmaking? Design ? She surely has it thanks to pure lines worthy of a wrist jewel. The materials ? It has it thanks on the one hand to a case combining steel, ceramic and synthetic sapphire crystal, and on the other hand to an offer of bracelets as qualitative as it is attractive.

Its most immediate flaw is its obsolescence. It wasn’t the €18,000 bill that kept the first Apple Watch Edition from getting stuck at watchOS 4.3, a version released in 2018. Without connected features, traditional luxury watches don’t age as quickly. And then the world of luxury, whether we’re talking about watches, fashion or automobiles, is often associated with long time, even generational transmission. But that’s not all the Apple Watch lacks to claim to be part of the world of luxury.

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