Is the iWatch the Next Big Thing from Apple?

Secret Entourage doesn’t usually get involved with the latest tech releases but from a business perspective, Apple has now caught our attention with its latest potential gadget, the iWatch. As we have showcased our ability to not only wear but make money off of some of today’s most extravagant timepieces through our TIC TOC System, we are not sure about how to feel when it comes to a new watch contender, especially one that comes from Apple. So we decided to look into this newest concept from the post Steve Jobs Apple era.

Photo Credit: Brett Jordan

While no official photos of the product have been released from Apple, independent designers are going wild drawing up interpretations of what the iWatch might look like. In fact, Apple has not even officially confirmed that they are working on an iWatch at all, but we do have reason to believe it’s true.

What we do know is that Apple has filed 79 patents related to “wearable technology” that is expected to be related to the iWatch project. Bloomberg also reported that Apple has a team of 100 people working on the iWatch project composed of staffers from nearly every division, and anonymous interviews indicate that this is “beyond the experimentation phase and is in development.”

Photo Credit: Nickolay Lamm

True or not, the iWatch is all the buzz in Silicone Valley right now, and a home-run product from Apple would bring a big boost to it’s declining stock value, down over 30% in the past two quarters. If it was not happening, Tim Cook or any Apple representative should be aggressively denying the claims as to not affect their stock price, as opposed to simply refusing to comment and letting our imaginations run wild.

So for the sake of this article, let’s assume it’s happening. What would it do?

Numerous reports assume that the iWatch would be tethered to your iPhone or iPad, and basically relay information from that device to your watch. Without having to unlock their phone to check a text or e-mail, business people in board meetings, out to dinner, or simply involved in a conversation, would have a much less intrusive way to check if their incoming message is an emergency. The ability to stream music to the watch would also be a nice touch, possibly via a Bluetooth connection to another iThing, or even directly from the cloud via WiFi and iTunes Match.

Photo Credit: Antonio Derosa

A smartwatch from Apple wouldn’t be the first of its kind. The wearable computer has been thought up by the minds of Casio and Sony, among others, but the execution has been sub par. With Apples built-in customer base already using compatible products, they’re ahead of the curve in terms of instant adopters.

Opponents to the idea, including Nick Hayek Jr., CEO of Swatch, argue that a smartwatch has no place in the market. “Replacing an iPhone with an interactive terminal on your wrist is difficult,” he said, “you can’t have an immense display.” A good point, but not something we think the Apple engineers can’t get around.

Photo Credit: Yrving Torrealba

This wouldn’t be the first time someone claimed an Apple idea was worthless. I would cite individual instances, but it basically covers every innovative product Apple has released in the past 10 years. If history repeats itself, we’ll likely see their stock continue to drop before Tim Cook announces the release of the product, fluctuate a little based on press releases before launch, and once the product hits shelves and catches on there will be a steady rise. Make no mistake – if that were to happen, it would prove that the post Steve Jobs Apple is just as strong as it was before his passing.

To be honest, it’s difficult to even compare the iWatch to a Rolex or Panerai as a 1 for 1, because they serve vastly different purposes. A mechanical watch is no longer judged by its ability to keep time. Every watchmaker has that down to a science by now. A watch makes a statement – judged by its form, not its function.

Over a Panerai vs. Bell & Ross debate, a friend of mine said, “I love my Panerai because the only people who know it’s expensive are other people who like quality timepieces and luxurious things. Our waiter just thinks it’s a watch. He doesn’t care and he’s not who I’m targeting by wearing it. My clients love it, when they see it they know I have taste and I appreciate quality without having to flash it.” He hit the nail on the head. Luxury watches serve many different purposes, but overall they are status symbols and collectors items. The iWatch, in whatever form, will never have the exclusivity or novelty of a luxury watch. Not only are they not in the same league, they aren’t even playing the same sport.

The current market share in the watch industry is about 60 billion dollars. If the iWatch were to release we believe it would have very little impact on the current climate,
contrary to speculation that it would take 10% of the market share. Smartwatches and traditional watches are two very different devices. How many times have you heard a friend or colleague who is not interested in a watch as a fashion item say: “I don’t need a watch, I already have a phone?”

That is the consumer who will be purchasing the iWatch. They will want a closer connection to their music, friends, colleagues, social networks, etc. Constant contact is the name of the game, and the iWatch will add a level of closeness not before seen.

Those like us on the Secret team who love watches as accessories and consider a beautiful timepiece a wearable example of art and technology will not stop buying regular watches with the invention of the iWatch. It’s a potentially great utility that we may use from time to time, but overall it would be much more of an addition than a replacement. In short, the iWatch is much more likely to create market share in a new segment than take market share from existing watchmakers.

We do have some concerns with battery life, which will most likely be closer to days or possibly weeks as opposed to lasting months or years. That could pose a minor inconvenience to those who are accustomed to having their watch work on command, without worrying about charging or having it die in the middle of a time where it is needed.

We’ll be anxiously awaiting official news from Apple regarding the product, but it’s likely they will keep their mouths shut until the official keynote for the iWatch happens (if it happens). In conclusion, we highly doubt that Apple will knock as competition to some of today’s top watch maker like Panerai, Audemars, IWC or Rolex but they will certainly appeal to entry level watch buyers and tech oriented individuals who would have previously not worn or purchased a watch. For the rest of us who won’t be giving up our FREE $10K watches, we certainly can still remain thankful that the TIC TOC system is still around.  That’s our take on the iWatch – now it’s your turn. We want to know what you think – do you love the idea? Hate it? Will it even happen?