Apple Watch: What worries me is that it could make my beautiful IWC timepiece redundant
I have always been a fan of mechanical watches and, over the years, have owned a some of Switzerland's finest, including Rolex, Jaeger Le Coultre, Panerai, Breitling and Omega. Eventually I ducked out of the ratrace and I decided to retain just one prime example, the delectable IWC Pilot Chronograph. I like it for its simplicity and utility (the day and date display is constantly useful for someone who is apt to forget what day of the week it is). After much trial and error, this is the perfect timepiece for my taste and needs. Up to now. Make no mistake, however, I still regard it as the Leica of the watch world.
I can therefore claim to speak from considerable personal experience of owning high-quality watches, something that eludes many technical commentators and Apple naysayers.
So why am I chomping at the bit to get my hands on the Apple Watch as soon as it hits these shores? Because that spot on my left wrist is valuable real estate and I am now ready to move it into 21st Century. Satisfied as I am with the wonderful IWC, I am looking forward to the added functionality that only a modern smartwatch can provide.
I know there will be a tinge of regret at putting my lovely IWC to one side. Will I want to wear it once I get hooked on the electronic delights of Mr.Cook's horological Swiss knife? This, frankly, is my only reservation about the Apple Watch. I fear it will be too good; so good, in fact, as to spoil my wrist for anything less competent.
This is a theme that must be worrying the craftsmen of the cantons. If Apple is entering their market (and a $10,000 gold watch can leave no doubt about that), how will Watch effect the sales of their hitherto unchallenged luxury timepieces?
Of course there will always be a market for fine mechanical timepieces (just as there is a thriving market for Leica M lenses in a world increasingly dominated by electronics) but that market will inevitably shrink. Even owners of expensive Swiss watches will be tempted by the Apple Watch. They might keep their analogue timepiece but, I suspect, will feel tempted to add to the collection with an Apple for everyday wear. Worse for the traditional manufacturers is that people will come to rely on the Apple's functions and will be increasingly reluctant to go back to wearing a dumb watch, however fine.
Everything depends on the placing of the Apple Watch in the market. It will certainly not be a Casio or, even, a Seiko. But will it be a Rolex or an IWC? All the signs are that Apple has the watch market well cased and, I believe, is prepared to aim high. And let us not forget that Apple is a brand already well known for quality, one that sits at the top of the tech market. Apple is the only company in the sector that could hope to pull off this conjuring trick.
It's in the detail
Much of the attraction in a good Swiss watch is in the detail, the flawless glass, impeccable finish and the precision of the straps and clasps. If you want a perfect steel bracelet, for instance, don't bother with the hoi polloi, go straight for Omega. In my opinion, Omega is the entry point for high quality when it comes to watches and it is the absolute base benchmark Apple should be aiming for.
Another telling factor will be the packing. Buy even a £1,000 steel Swiss watch and you will get a smart leather box with suede innards, something to make you feel special. No doubt the gold version will excel In packaging. But even the more humble steel ticker needs to have packaging that is a cut above Apple's norm.
All this said, it will be impossible to tell whether the Apple Watch matches up to what I would call the Omega test until I get one of the new devices on my wrist.
If Apple can match the quality and feel of an expensive analogue watch, as I believe it can, then the major luxury watch manufacturers need to start worrying, if they are not already in a tiswas.
If the steel Apple Watch and its steel bracelet, never mind the gold version, has the quality of Omega, never mind Rolex or IWC, then it will sell in the tens of millions.
Even before today's launch, I am sure that the Watch is Apple's next big thing. Many have said it is the most important company announcement since the iPad. I would go further. In terms of impact and the potential to change how we all relate to our technology, the Apple Watch is the next iPhone.