It seems that 2015 really was the year of the smartwatch.
In data released by research firm Strategy Analytics, smartwatches outsold Swiss made watches for the first time in the final quarter of 2015.
If, like me you had written smartwatches off as nothing more than passing fad, this new report will certainly reaffirm how the smartwatch market has grown over the past 12 months.
According to the figures, 8.1 million smartwatches were sold in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to 7.9 million Swiss made watches.
Strategy Analytics defines a smartwatch as “a computerized wristwatch with a high-level or expandable operating system produced and shipped from any country worldwide,” whereas a Swiss watch is a “a wristwatch produced and shipped from Switzerland”.
While Samsung offers the widest range of smartwatches and has an overall market share of 16 percent, the market is dominated by the Apple Watch, which accounts for 63 percent of the market.
Although Apple is yet to officially unveil sales figures for Apple Watch, the number of units shipped in the final quarter of 2015 are estimated to be around 5.1 million.
The figures mean that for every 10 smartwatches shipped worldwide, 8 are made by either Apple or Samsung.
While the smartphone market has seen a hefty 300 percent growth since 2014, the Swiss watch industry continues to decline and saw shipments fall by 5 percent last year.
Despite Swiss watchmakers claiming the industry would not be threatened by smartwatches, particularly the Apple Watch, these latest figures would suggest the industry has been slow to react to development and growth of the smartwatch.
Some Swiss watchmakers have experimented with creating their own versions of a smartwatch which try to combine features such as viewing notifications and health data, with traditional horological quartz watches.
“The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.
“The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away. Swiss brands, like Tag Heuer, accounted for a tiny 1 percent of all smartwatches shipped globally during Q4 2015, and they are long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smartwatch category”, he added.
The negative impact the growth of smartwatches is having on the Swiss watchmaking industry has already been dubbed the ‘Apple effect’.
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Prior to its launch, design guru Jony Ive reportedly predicted Apple Watch would cause major problems for the revered Swiss watch industry.
The emergence of smartwatches and the Swiss watch industry’s seemingly slow reaction is somewhat reminiscent of the so called Quartz Crisis of the 1970s and early 80s.
Watchmakers in Switzerland played down the impact quartz watches would have on their traditional mechanical watches, with makers refusing to embrace what was then the new technology of the day.
By 1980 the Swiss watch industry was in complete turmoil and it wasn’t until 1983 with the launch and subsequent huge success of the Swatch quartz wristwatch that the Swiss watch industry started to recover.
While not a crisis levels yet, it will be interesting to see how traditional watch makers react to the growth of the smartwatch.
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.