With the long-anticipated Apple Replica Watch now available to view and pre-order, and purchasing expected to commence this Friday, no one will be watching the take-up more closely than traditional replica watches brands. This was flagged at the recent Baselworld watch fair, where despite not being on show, the most talked-about timepiece was Apple’s newcomer, with opinions divided on the impact it will have on an industry dominated by the Swiss, and to a lesser extent the Japanese.
The head of LVMH watch brands Replica Hublot, Tag Heuer and Zenith, Jean-Claude Biver, told attendees Apple was unlike previous competitors in that “they make as much in a month as the whole Swiss industry makes in a year.” Apple, the world’s richest company, is a threat for another reason – it’s a “cool” brand, the likes of which the Swiss have not come up against before.
The Swiss are particularly vulnerable in the youth market where ‘brand’ cachet and wearable cred doesn’t extend to names like Jaeger LeCoultre, Breguet or Patek Philippe Replica – things your father might sport. But did Apple actually set out to achieve world dominance in swiss replica watches?
Apple designers at its Infinite Loop headquarters in Cuppertino are keen to stress they were in fact regular “watch guys”, who loved their Replica Rolexes and Tag Heuers. On the other hand it was obvious to the team when the device was first proposed by design head Sir Jonathon Ive back in 2011 that the next Apple device had to be wearable and the only natural place for it to sit was on the wrist.
This presented some unique challenges: they were working in the digital space, apps would be critical to the usefulness of whatever it was going to be, but the sheer physical restraints of the forearm meant simply adapting an iPhone-like interface was not possible.
Different design needs
The team quickly realised the face was “too small to pinch and zoom”, that your fingers obscured the display, and even that standard typefaces didn’t reproduce with adequate crispness. Thus Apple set to work experimenting with a replica watch-like crown, which ultimately became the Digital Crown, while typographers were brought in to craft a dedicated typeface that scaled up or down without loss of clarity.
While all this resulted in something that worked on a technical level – the crown alone involved decisions about resistance, how far it should protrude, the right number of grooves – the designers had to consider not only questions of fashion and style, hardly new fields for Apple, but also how the new device might feel against the skin – something they’d not previously had to prioritise. It was also decided the replica watches uk had to be independent of its partner in crime, the iPhone, at least for functions such as time, music and basic fitness functions such as measuring pace and distance.
Finally there was the question of how the fake watch might be attached to the wrist – and here’s there’s an intriguing Australian connection, namely Sydney-born internationally renowned uber-designer Marc Newson. Newson has more than dabbled in replica watches before; he set up his own up-market timepiece line, Ikepod, in the late 1990s, parting ways with the brand only in 2012.
Commentators have noted that bands of the Apple replica watch bear a striking resemblance to those the Ikepod uniquely sported, while the rectangular case-shape too is not unlike more recent Ikepod efforts. The puzzle – if you can call it that – is that Newson joined the Apple design team only moments before the fake watch was officially announced.
One explanation given is that Newson and Ive have long been friends, and had probably been scribbling away together at the dining room table for yonks – with Newson’s later official appointment merely confirming his earlier involvement.
Another outsider brought in was Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts, who was recruited as senior vice president for retail and online stores. At the official launch of the replica watch in San Francisco in late March, Apple CEO Tim Cook said such appointments demonstrated the company’s understanding of the need for not just a different device, but a different retail experience, citing the desirability of “choice and soft expression”.
Whether a combination of clever product and soft-sell is enough to make the Apple a replica watch industry game-changer we’re about to find out. In their favour, the Swiss, and at the high end Japan’s Grand Seiko, produce hand-crafted timepieces of such quality and complexity that they should continue to win hands down when it comes to character and cachet. They are also largely obsolescence-proof.
As such, Biver feels that the real threat is to lower-end timepieces, not mechanical masterpieces. But a question remains: what if young people in particular become accustomed to having something more multifunctional on the wrist than a simple time-teller? Will they turn to the revered traditional brands, many of whom – Breitling, Bulgari, Tag Heuer, Frederique Constant – are now also working feverishly on offering various levels of connectivity, or will generation Y embrace a cheeky newcomer?
Given recent history – and the transformative effects we’ve witnessed thanks to the iPod, iPad, and iPhone, it’s a brave watcher who’d bet against the latter. Bani McSpedden is watch editor of The Australian Financial Review and topreplicaswatches.me.uk; he travelled to Cupertino as a guest of Apple.