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  • Writer's pictureGaz

Smartwatches - Feeling Threatened?

This is actually a hard one to tackle as I find myself massively on the fence when it comes the pros and cons of owning and wearing a smartwatch. Part of me loves the idea and wants to welcome it with open arms. I am after all a tech nerd and love thinking about what the future holds and we technology add more convenience and enrich our lives.

But then there’s another part of me that just likes to slow down. To take in moments where I am not always connected to something and I'm not being bothered by notifications, messages and reminders. For me, there’s nothing better than visiting a coffee shop, reading a book (or kindle… still counts) and just switching off from the world. If I’m feeling really old fashioned I may even strike up a conversation with someone. I am a sucker for nostalgia and I should appreciate that not everyone is like me.

In this post, I am mostly going to refer to the Apple Watch when talking about smartwatches. I know there are other brands which offer different designs and functionality but let’s face it, when I say smartwatch, what image pops into your head? I bet it wasn’t a Fitbit! Also, it’s the biggest selling watch and has probably caused the most disruption to watch industry by far.

In all honesty, I have been debating the Apple Watch since the series 3. I actually like the design and the functions it offers. Being waist deep in the Apple ecosystem it seems like a no brainer, but there is just something holding me back. Every time I walk into an Apple store I find myself standing at the Watch table playing with the watch. I try it on, mess about with the straps and imagining how my life will be better if I had it… Just like in the ads! #marketing.

But I just can never bring myself to make the purchase. As I sit here in neutral territory at my desk and give it some major thought, I think the things that bother me most is the overall lifespan of the watch and its continuous need for a charge.

When I think of buying a watch, it is a decision for the long term. I very rarely sell a watch that I buy and for me, I see it as something that will last at least my lifetime. I imagine my nephews wearing them when I’m gone (hopefully they’re still in fashion). But I have no doubt with the right care and maintenance they’d still be working. But a smartwatch is actually quite a disposable item.

Sure, it’d be great the first few years and it would probably serve me quite well. But once my smartwatch no longer supports those updates I’ll be forced to get a new one. Dropping £400 on a new watch every couple of years doesn’t real appeal to me and, over three generations I’d be in for almost £1300 (based on the cheapest 42mm).

A quick check on Chrono24 and I have just found an Omega Seamaster Automatic (ref 3510.50) for the same price and it’s enough to get me thinking. Sure, it’s used and doesn’t have the same functionality as the Apple Watch, but if cared for, it should stand the test of time. The Apple Watch however will be discarded in a few years; 5-7 if I’m lucky. After that it just becomes another item in our “throw away” culture. Seems a little wasteful.

Additionally, it also needs to be charged, probably everyday which I actually see a bit of a pain in the arse. I know it’s not difficult to simply connect a charger when you go to bed but for me, it’s just another thing to clutter up the nightstand and remember to do. I also swap out my watches quite regularly so wouldn’t necessarily be wearing a smartwatch everyday so the idea of it spending more time in a drawer then needing a charge before I use doesn’t sit well with me. So yeah, it could be argued that my lifestyle and arguably laziness isn’t suited for a smartwatch.

Nevertheless, the Apple watch has been a game-changer. It is by far the biggest selling watch and has given the watch industry something to think about, if not fear. According to Strategy Analytics, Apple have sold more apple watches than the whole Swiss watch industry combined. Yes, we could argue that companies like Rolex aren’t making 10 million units of the Submariner every year, which why they’re so valuable and sought after. But are companies like Rolex and Omega doing enough to attract the very people who buy an apple watch? Could it be that the next generations simply want function over form? Updates over movements? Style over craftsmanship?

Some companies are taking note. Tag Heuer in particular has produced its own smartwatch (check out the Tag Heuer Connected 2020). Additionally, the same technology from the Tag can also be found in the Hublot Big Bang Referee which was used during the world cup. Montblanc have produced their own smartwatch too; their latest offering is the Summit 2 (which actually looks quite nice). And while these brands cannot compete with the volumes Apple are producing, it allows luxury brands to tap into a market and, more importantly, a customer base, who they can then market other products to.

In my last blog post I talked about how younger generations are finding it more difficult - or unnecessary - to tell the time. While I feel this should be a concern, perhaps this is where Apple, Samsung and other smartwatch manufacturers could have a positive impact and keep time-telling alive, even if it isn’t in the traditional sense. Maybe the Apple Watch itself could become the gateway watch for future collectors just as the G Shock once was for me? After all, we are all too familiar with that “naked” feeling when there isn’t something on the wrist, regardless of whether it’s a smartwatch or manual.

And I think this sort of sums it up nicely. Are smartwatches having a huge impact? Yes. Is the Apple Watch kicking everyone’s arse? Sure! But a watch comes down to personal preference, your own style and your lifestyle. If you want to be connected and updated then a smartwatch is the right way to go, hopefully it leads you further down this wonderful path. If you’re someone who enjoys the craftsmanship, detail and luxury of a manual and wants something that will stand the test of time then go for it. And that’s certainly not to say there are two camps. I have no doubt that there will be an Apple Watch on my wrist soon enough but nothing will pull me away from my manuals. In my opinion, being able to tell the time is more important than what you use to do it. For me, having a watch, regardless of who makes it, is much better than not having one at all.

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Additionally, you can check out our NATO straps at the store. They are available in 20mm & 22mm. Postage within the UK is free as well as all orders over £50.

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