Apple’s design mastermind Jony Ive spoke in no uncertain terms when he described what the Apple Watch would mean for Switzerland: The old watch companies, he said, were doomed. (Actually, he used a more colorful term.) Bravado aside, Ive has a point. The Swiss watch industry has to be concerned…
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.slate.com
Last year, Swatch released a new model called Sistem51. Unlike most of the watches in the affordable Swiss watch company’s line, the Sistem51 is mechanical: Rather than using a battery, as in a quartz watch, it stores energy by using the motion of your wrist to wind it. Unlike any other Swiss mechanical, the Sistem51 is built entirely on a 65-foot-long automated assembly line, without any human intervention. Maybe most significantly, the Sistem51 costs just $150—a shockingly low price point for a mechanical watch that is 100 percent Swiss made. A decent Swiss mechanical with a reliable timekeeping mechanism inside it starts north of $500 (usually closer to $1,000), and prices quickly rise from there: an automatic TAG Heuer will run you over $2,000, a Rolex starts at about $5,000, and the high luxury watches—the likes of Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, or Vacheron Constantin—run up into five and six digits. For all these reasons, Swatch’s new affordable mechanical is getting a lot more attention in the watch world than a Swatch normally would. Aficionados who usually focus on prestige brands have referred to it as “clearly one of the most important new watches of the last 10 years.” At its launch, Swatch described Sistem51 as “a provocation” to the industry at large. The notion of an affordable mechanical watch is a serious change for Swiss luxury watch companies, which generally operate in a bubble of escalating prices and high-end consumers willing to pay top dollar for the latest models.
But the goal isn’t to compete with Apple’s technological prowess: It’s to generate enthusiasm for Swiss craftsmanship on a much wider base. As an entry-level brand, Swatch has always been about drawing in potential watch buyers and functioning as a gateway drug to the Swatch Group’s higher-value offerings.