Back in September, I wrote on how skeptical I was that a piece of technology would replace a fashionable accessory. Several months have passed and, although we do not have the Apple Watch on our wrists yet, I’m still convinced that fashion is very personal and that the utility of the object is not what attracts us as much as the tradition of its craftsmanship.
Google Glass is a good example. Despite starting to prove how useful it can be to some business verticals, as it is the case with healthcare, it has been and remains shunned by the fashion police.
History repeats itself
The Swiss watch industry is versatile and unique, because it was built on tradition, its craftsmanship value has survived and returned from the dead when challenged by technology. When Japan introduced the quartz movement in the seventies (a movement is the engine inside of a watch), mechanical watches were replaced by this new and amazing – and much more accurate technology. In fact, the majority of the world’s watch production shifted to companies that embraced the new innovation. This shift had such a great impact in the Swiss watch industry that from the 1,600 Swiss watchmakers in 1970, there were only 600 still in business in 1983.
Fast forward to today, where we are still fond of our Rolex, Panerai, and Cartier watches. As new segments where created, new hybrids became available, yet the traditional, timeless pieces that can be passed from one generation to the next – only to increase in value – remain coveted and collected in spite of their inaccuracy in telling time: their only real function in life.
Apple can cut to the chase
Thanks to standards, designer watches come in a well-defined variety of bezel sizes, case diameters, thickness, and shapes. Their inner guts or movements come in a set of standard calibers. Apple can save itself the pain suffered by Google Glass and save the Apple Watch from becoming a vertical item or a temporary fashion statement, by supplying its technology to Swiss watchmakers as a huge step up from quartz movements.
Just as they changed the music industry forever without attempting to replicate Motown, Apple can revolutionize the watch industry by giving traditional watchmakers what they really need; a new and substantial upgrade from quartz technology, which is by now, a quarter of a century old.
Imagine the beauty of an IWC watch (pictured) that can better tell time, communicate with your iPhone, secure a payment, or let you into your building. Apple has the potential to bring all watches to the age of enchanted devices and the Internet of Things.
I, for one, would shed some serious cash for an Apple-powered “real” watch. Wouldn’t you?
Sam Shawki, CEO, and Nancy Zayed, CTO, are founders of MagicCube, a digital commerce security start-up based in Sunnyvale, CA. Nancy is an expert in mobile devices, having spent the last decade working on the OS group at Apple. Sam has led several payment companies throughout his career, and most recently he led the Global Remote Payments Business Unit at Visa Inc. You can find both on Twitter @sshawki and @zayena.