The Lilian Raji Agency
By: Lilian Raji
August 10, 2015
Late last month, Edward Faber, co-owner of Aaron Faber Gallery and author of American Wristwatches: Five Decades of Style and Design, Gary Girdvainis, editor of WristWatch magazine and AboutTime magazineand Jeffrey Hess, CEO of Ball Watch USA, Milton Pedraza, CEO and Founder of The Luxury Institute, and Jason Alan Snyder, Chief Technology Officer of Momentum Worldwide reconvened Aaron Faber Gallery’s annual Watch Collectors’ Roundtable to debate the question, “Will Smartwatches Disrupt the Swiss Watch Industry?” The Roundtable was moderated by Eleven James CEO, Randy Brandoff.
With the recent release of a report by market research firm Slice Intelligence announcing that Apple watch sales have declined 90% since their initial launch, the unanimous predictions of the Roundtable panelists has been proven accurate: no, smartwatches will not disrupt the Swiss watch industry.
What the panelists couldn’t agree on, however, was if smartwatches would impact the industry in any way.
- Jeff Hess, who also owns Hess Fine Art, noted his customers have been coming in wearing a smartwatch on one wrist and a fine Swiss timepiece on the other. In this, there seems to be the possibility of harmony between the two types of watches.
- Edward Faber asserted that a smartwatch will never seem as prestigious as walking into a boardroom wearing a Rolex Presidential or other high status watch. Smartwatches will only be a gadget.
- Milton Pedraza agrees on the novelty factor of watches, but didn’t dismiss that smartwatches could ultimately be more a fashion statement than a power statement.
- Gary Girdvainis predicted that smartwatches would ultimately become gateways for the millennials who gave up watches for their smartphones to now begin entertaining the idea of wearing a watch. When these same millennials reach their 30s, after spending the last few years wearing a smartwatch, graduating to a Swiss timepiece will be their next step.
- For tech industry expert, Jason Alan Snyder, smartwatches are about functionality and features. They are about advancing technology to make our lives easier. The debate shouldn’t be about smartwatches vs timepieces, they should be about smartwatches and all the major advancements going on in technology.
As Randy Brandoff moderated the panel, addressing such issues as the future of the watch industry for collectors, what future technological functions make sense for wristwear and Swiss watch manufacturers pursuing their own smartwatches, panelists made predictions and gave insights that will make many watch, technology and luxury industry people “wait and see” over the next few months as smartwatches set the stage for the evolution of how people tell time.
Click the link to watch the video of the roundtable for quotes by Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: The Watch Collectors’ Roundtable – Will Smart Watches Disrupt the Swiss Watch Industry?