What do you do when you need to check the time? Think about your answer before contemplating whether watches are still a necessity.
Contrary to the past, pulling your phone out to know the time has probably superseded wearing a watch to do the same. This has changed the market for buying watches, not to mention the interest lost in competition to smartwatches.
Timex chief executive officer and president, Paolo Marai, has seen this change and the effects it could have on future watches.
In reference to the brand’s slogan “takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” he stated “The fact now is that having a very precise watch or a watch that keeps working no matter how hard you try to destroy it, it’s over.” He added, “So more and more in a certain price range I believe watches have become more of an accessory than a timekeeper. Fashion brands are more likely to follow up with trends; they have a different mentality than traditional watchmakers who are looking to develop new movements. For fashion brands, it’s about trying to design a new watch, and I believe that is an advantage for them.”
He may very well be right considering the difference. If the primary use of watches has become almost obsolete at this point, the only way for the market to thrive is by emphasizing it’s other major purpose: fashion.
This becomes especially true given this generation of young adults who, one day, will need to be become a driving force behind that market in order for watches to survive.
“The younger generation has been wearing watches less and less but still realize that as an accessory they have a completely different meaning. It’s something you put on your wrist, because for women it fits the way you dress and for men it’s a status symbol or one of the few toys we have. For ladies, you have bags, jewels, shoes to express your personality and for men it’s much less. You can apply this to design — it’s become more and more relevant and I believe in this respect the fashion brands take a certain advantage in this mid-price category,” stated Marai.
The hope for the industry itself is that this can continue to be the case. With smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, functionality is still at it’s forefront, offering much more than just the time. Furthermore, third-party brands and Apple themselves have released tons of different bands and customization options so that neither function nor fashion has to be sacrificed in exchange for the other.
Still, that results in a price-tag guaranteed to break $300 if not more. Traditional watches may not be able to compete functionally with smartwatches, but their options are much more fashionably diverse at that amount or less.
For now, the fashion-related positives of the average watch will allow it to survive. The question remains of how long that will last.