Limited edition of 75 pieces
The Richard Mille RM 50-03 watch McLaren F1 Split Seconds Tourbillon Chronograph weighs just 40 grams. This achievement makes this chronograph mechanism the lightest ever in the world, and that is due to the use of the ultra-light durability materials it uses.
To create this chronograph, Richard Mille has teamed up with one of McLaren Honda’s most famous racing car makers. McLaren is world-renowned for its ultra-light and high-strength alloys.
The Richard Mille RM 50-03 was presented on 20/1/17 at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH).
Carbon fiber material with the typical TPT graph used has been improved by the addition of graphene of a nanomaterial six times lighter than steel but 200 times more durable, according to the watchmaker.
Richard Mille collaborated with the University of Manchester, where he was responsible for the creation of this new graphene, by Professor Andre Geim, who in 2004 won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery.
The RM50-03 has a “record” weight of just seven grams. The base plate and bridges are made of durable and rigid titanium 5 degrees. Some of the chronograph bridges are made of TPT carbon for better support of the Tourbillon mechanism. The company reports that, despite its extremely lightweight materials, it was tested to be resistant to vibrations of 5,000 Gs and have a 70-hour energy stock.
The second gear has a new wheel that now has six columns, unlike the eight previous versions, and the helical spring has been replaced by a blade in RM 50-03.
In addition to its small weight and new developments, RM 50-03 retains all the features of the Richard Mille watch house, including the Tourneau signature. The RM 50-03 will be available with a rubber strap that is improved by adding graphene as well as leather.
The watch will be available according to the company, from June to a limited edition of 75 pieces. Its price is expected to be 1.085.000€.
Tourbillons put on the most mesmerising show in the watchmaking arena?
You’ve probably spotted them on countless high-end watches, those diminutive cages spinning gracefully on the dial, referred to as tourbillons. Like a miniature whirling dervish on your wrist, the tourbillon puts on one of the most animated shows in watchmaking allowing you to admire the rotating cage as it twirls before your very eyes. Touted as the pinnacle of a watchmaker’s skills and responsible for notching up the price and prestige of a watch, what exactly is a tourbillon?
In a nutshell a tourbillon, which in French means ‘whirlwind’, is a device invented in 1795 by Abraham-Louis Breguet to counter the effects that gravity exerts on the movement of a watch. Watches do not perform at the same rate in different positions and the gravitational pull on a pocket watch held in a vertical position can either accelerate or slow down the balance wheel. Since pocket watches during Breguet’s day were worn inside a vest pocket in a vertical position, accuracy became a serious issue. Breguet’s ingenious invention housed both the balance wheel and the escapement in a rotating carriage or cage. The idea was that by making the carriage rotate on its axis- at an average rate of one revolution per minute - the negative effects of gravity would be compensated and positional errors and timing variations would be averaged out.
The tourbillon complication was considered one of the most sophisticated horological inventions of its day but fell into relative obscurity. Coinciding with the rebirth of traditional watchmaking in the early 1980s - following the devastating impact of quartz on the watch industry- the tourbillon made a comeback and was used as a showcase of watchmaking kudos. Thanks to its mesmerising presence, pumping like a mechanical heart on the dial, luxury Swiss watchmakers zeroed in on the tourbillon complication making it one of the most ostensible markers of an ‘expensive’ watch. Popular with both men and women, tourbillons are one of the most requested complications in watchmaking and come in every taste possible from high jewellery to stealthy sports models.
The sophistication of mechanical movements today makes the use of tourbillons largely unnecessary and the debate about the real efficacy of tourbillons always meets with radically opposing answers. If you are a brand like Greubel Forsey, renowned for its incorporation of tourbillons inclined at vertiginous degrees and winner of numerous chronometry prizes, then tourbillons are vital allies in the war against gravity. However, most cogheads will concede that although they are a very attractive and exceedingly difficult to make, they are essentially obsolete complications in the accuracy department.
A tourbillon is all about visual impact and when it comes to wow-factor spinning, a flying tourbillon is the model to go for. Unlike regular tourbillons, which are secured by a bridge, a flying tourbillon is supported from one side only and gives the impression of being suspended in space as it completes its elegant revolutions.
Defying the tradition that a tourbillon watch is an infinitely delicate object and will cost you as much as a sports car - and in some cases a house - TAG Heuer introduced the Carrera Heuer-02T. The Volkswagen of tourbillons, this sporty watch is water-resistant to 100 metres and comes with a very attractive price tag of £12,100 making it the “least expensive Swiss tourbillon chronograph on the market today.”
These factors led to a decline in demand for Swiss watches
Editing: Dimitris Stamoulis
The watches had a share of 94% in the total value of Swiss exports
The Swiss watch industry faced a particularly difficult situation during the first half of 2016. The decline recorded at the end of 2015 was exacerbated by several factors negatively affecting the development of industry. The Hong Kong market was unable to recover and this had a decisive impact on the overall result. The overvalued Swiss franc, the uncertainty associated with terrorism and changes mentioned in tourist flows worked negatively against the demand for Swiss watches.
The value of Swiss watchmaking exports amounted to 9.5 billion Swiss francs in the first half of the year, when four years ago the corresponding turnover for the same period amounted to 10 billion francs. In particular, this performance is a decrease of 10.6% compared to the semester January-June 2015. As regards the different regions of the world watch market, Europe can be made a little further development in the second quarter of this year, but all other regions were significantly affected by the ongoing recession.
Provisions for the continuation and the end of 2016 is even more bleak. Despite the expected marginal improvement in the situation during the second half of the year, the year comparison reveals a possible decrease compared with the data recorded today.
Watches Steel posted smaller losses, which touched the -6.4%
The watches had a share of 94% in the total value of Swiss exports. However, in terms of their value stagnated at 10.7% in the first half of 2016. In terms of export volume, the contracts were closed showing a further reduction amounting to 11.9%. In a period of six months, about 12 million Swiss watches “left” Switzerland and traveled to other markets, less by 1.6 million. Pieces compared with the previous year.
In value terms, the decline was similar for both types of watches, mechanical and electronic watches. However, electronic watches were a more significant reduction in the number of pieces channeled in foreign markets and to rate reached -14.8%.
Over half the reduction in terms of the value of Swiss watch correspond to products of precious metals like gold, platinum and silver. This class, in particular, has lost 16% of the previous value in the first half of 2016. The watches steel posted smaller losses, which touched the -6.4%. However, in terms of volume exported 800,000 fewer steel Swiss watches or 11.6% less. Much greater percentage decrease was the category “other metals” of 20% (19.9% to be precise).
In terms of sales prices, almost all categories of Swiss watches suffered double-digit declines. Only the class with values between 500 and 3000 Swiss francs (export price) recorded the smallest decrease in export performance of -4.7%. On the other hand, the category with the greatest reduction reached 15% was the most economical, ie one that includes selling products between 200 and 500 Swiss francs.
Japan was one of the few markets where there was growth of Swiss exports (+ 2.9%)
Influenced by the poor performance of Hong Kong, the Asia region recorded the largest decline as an export destination for Swiss watch area, with a decrease of 12,7%.
The situation improved somewhat in the region of America in the second quarter, but still remained negative throughout the first half of the year to -9.8%. Regarding Europe, Swiss watches and here less traveled destinations, a negative rate, which reached -8.6%.
We, however, to refer to the case of Hong Kong, as this export destination remains the “black hole” of the Swiss watch industry. For 17 consecutive months of record drop in imports of Swiss watches while the decrease amounted to 26.7% for the first half of 2016. This picture of the Hong Kong market had impact on the overall result.
Japan was one of the few markets where there was growth of Swiss exports (+ 2.9%). In the wider Asia, however, the trend in recent months is negative. The China market fell by 14.7%, unable for a further period to show signs of recovery. In the Middle East, a limited increase of 2.7% showed the market of the United Arab Emirates, and other major Asian markets were at much lower levels.
In the USA, after the bad start of the year which had a significant impact on the performance of the sector, the Swiss watch exports fell by 9.3% from last January to June.
On the east side of the Atlantic, in Europe, the common feature is that no individual market never moved upward with respect to exports of Swiss watches. Italy fell 12.6% and France 14.8%, being the most negative market models. Negative also initiated exports to Germany (-4.9%), the UK (-5.4%), Spain (-6.1%) and Austria (-2.0%).
Editing: Dimitris Stamoulis
The Swiss Haute watchmaker Vacheron Constantin announced that constructed the most complicated watch in the world, a creation that took approximately nine years of hard work by the company’s technicians.
Codenamed Ref. 57 260, the pocket watch with double dials and consists of 57 mikromichanismous over 2800 components. As for the value of the house watchmaker Vacheron Constantin did not reveal the price of the watch, according to the desire of the anonymous collector who also ordered this watch.
Among the mechanisms of including a number of young people who presented for the first time, for example, the double chronograph regression “rattrapante”. The new chronograph can be read by the user in the same way it is done in a conventional chronograph. What makes really unique this chronograph is the fact that while the two indicators move seamlessly from the same axis, however never meet. They operate on two separate scales on two opposite sides of the dial.
Another innovative mechanism is the dual perpetual calendar function, which gives the watch its ability to provide three completely different calendars readings, one for the Jewish calendar and other two for the Gregorian.
According to Vacheron Constantin, because of the long duration of the Jewish calendar change cycles and differences with the Gregorian calendar, the creation of an integrated, functional mechanical Jewish perpetual calendar was impossible before the construction of model Ref. 57260. “Very highly complex mathematical calculations combined with lunar months and solar years and all these data were transcribed in a not merely functional clock mechanism, but in an elegant, logical and easy to read from any user clock mechanism” he commented a representative of the high Swiss watchmaking house. This is an example of modern orologopoiitikis genius.
Regarding the Gregorian calendar, automatically fixes the appropriate number of days of the month, and leap years can be read on the display using the retrograde date, day of the week and months of the dial. The Gregorian calendar is offered in two versions: either the traditional calendar, or professional calendar system known u j as ISO 8601, a numbered system that uses 52 weeks and seven days.
The watch has three possible types of ring: the standard mode where ringing ringing automatically at each passage from the position of the fourth hour, the night mode where the tinkling function off for each post from 8 to 22 hours, and the mute, where the ringer can be deactivated (switched off), when not desired.
The cage containing the “armillary” tourbillon escapement where the clock is enclosed, is visible through an opening in the dial, beneath the position of the celestial map. The cage he has received the name armillary astrolabe which means, as a remembrance of this famous astronomical instrument of Greek antiquity.
Notably the armillary sphere tourbillon constructed more lightweight materials was possible, according to Vacheron Constantin, to minimize the effects of gravity on the balance wheel (balance wheel), and the other organs of the escapement.
The most complicated watch in the world announced that built o Haute Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin.
The ref clock. 57 260 brought many innovative mikromichanismous.
The ... Oscar watches the Greubel Forsey
Editing: Dimitris Stamoulis
The 15th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) or Watchmaking Grand Prix, which is known as the watches Oscar, held in Geneva on October 28, at the Grand Theatre of the beautiful Swiss city. A grand jury of 26 experts accredited watchmakers and collectors have chosen 17 top watches of the year for as many categories of the competition and handed awards in watchmaking that stood with their creations for 2015.
Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision from Greubel Forsey
Golden Index award
The top prize, known as the “Aiguille d’Or” (Gold Index) was the watchmaker Greubel Forsey for the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision watch. This clock was first introduced by Greubel Forsey in high watchmaking salon SIHH 2015 year, proving that only eleven years old company founded by Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey is able to create stunning pieces.
The Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision is a watch equipped with a rapidly rotating tourbillon 24 seconds with 25-degree tilt angle. The mechanism is first visible from the back of the frame in a watch Greubel Forsey, protected under a dome of sapphire crystal. Regarding the display, the opening mechanism is positioned at the position 9, while the understated elegance prevails. The hour and minute indicators are lance-shaped, brushed steel, while the numerical indications of the hour and minute lines are blue enamel. The logo of watchmakers, Greubel Forsey, is made of gold and positioned just below the box 12, while there is also a smaller and distinctive dial indicator of seconds in the 4 position.
Altiplano Chronograph from Piaget
The chronograph watch -Chronograph Watch Prize- award was given to the watchmaker Piaget Altiplano Chronograph, which broke two records fineness, the mechanism (only 4.65 mm thick) and the frame (8.24 mm thickness). The mechanism, Caliber 883P, based on Piaget 880P, the thinnest automatic mechanism that currently exists in the market. The impressive thinness but identifies and other key elements of the watch, such as the cannon-pinion gear (0.12 mm), the barrel staff (0.115 mm), the chronograph gear finger (0.06 mm). The Piaget, also managed to secure the energy autonomy clock 50 hours, a small seconds display and dual time indicator.
Tudor Pelagos from Tudor
Sports watch award
The Tudor took the sports watch prize -Sports Watch Prize- for the watch Tudor Pelagos, an elegant retro style, diving watch that is waterproof to a depth of 500 meters. The frame is made of light-treated titanium, while the device is designed and manufactured by the same watchmaker Tudor.
Better mechanism award
The hard competition featuring the best mechanism brought in the first place and winning the Exception Watch Prize clock Charming Bird of Jaquet Droz. The frame is made of white gold and the dial is surrounded by domed sapphire crystal. But what impresses is a highly realistic mechanism “singing bird” that operates with a piston system that appears from the display.
Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon from Ulysse Nardin
Award for best Tourbillon
The Ulysse Nardin won the category prize Tourbillon Watch with Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon, which is the first watch equipped with a proprietary constant leakage power system, made entirely of silicone.
Charming Bird from Jaquet Droz
Award for best art clock
The Blancpain Villeret cadran Shakudō received his artistic clock prize -Artistic Crafts Watch Prize-, impressing the judges with katapliktikiapeikonisi the display of the Hindu god Ganesh with elefantomorfo head, sculpted by ancient Japanese technique Shakudō. This result was achieved by using an alloy of copper and gold which imparts a dark blue-black patina - which encharachtike elaborate and then followed by the technique damascening, which is the technique of injecting a metal into another metal which functions as a base. This watch belongs to the Metiers d’Art collection of Blancpain and has a frame than 45 cm from pink gold and a uniquely styled manual winding mechanism, Caliber 15B, which is visible through the transparent back of the frame.
Villeret cadran Shakudō from Blancpain
Award best watch Calendar
Hermès won the award in the category Calendar Watch Prize to watch Slim d’Hermès QP. This is a watch that is the new member of the family of Slim d’Hermès family, with case of pink gold 39.5 mm and mechanism perpetual calendar, which is the basis of Caliber 1950, with an additional section, produced by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht and in Aghenor group. The display has a display of four years, which shows the months and leap years, and features a smaller display Dual time / GMT and date, and indication of the moon phases, represented by a disk of white mother-of-pearl and a sky aventurine.
This year, finally, the best female prize Clock - Ladies Watch Prize- took the Iublot for the Big Bang Broderie clock. It is a timepiece that pays tribute to ancient Swiss embroidery of Saint Gall. The display shows an embroidered skull decorated with 11 diamonds, others embroidered arabesques decorate the bezel and strap.
Slim d’Hermès QP from Hermès
All awards with clocks winning are:
Aiguille d’Or” Grand Prix: Greubel Forsey, Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision
Ladies’ Watch Prize: Hublot, Big Bang Broderie
Ladies’ High-Mech Watch Prize: Fabergé, Lady Compliquée Peacock
Men’s Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Voutilainen GMR
Chronograph Watch Prize: Piaget, Altiplano Chrono
Tourbillon Watch Prize: Ulysse Nardin, Ulysse Anchor Tourbillon
Calendar Watch Prize: Hermès, Slim d’Hermès QP
Striking Watch Prize: Girard-Perregaux, Minute Repeater Tourbillon with Gold Bridges
Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Jaquet Droz, The Charming Bird
“Petite Aiguille” Prize: Habring2, Felix
Sports Watch Prize: Tudor, Pelagos
Jewellery Watch Prize: Audemars Piguet, Diamond Punk
Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Blancpain, Villeret, cadran Shakudō
Revival Watch Prize: Piaget, Extremely Piaget Double Sided Cuff Watch
Innovation Watch Prize: Antoine Preziuso, Tourbillon of Tourbillons
“Horological Revelation” Prize: Laurent Ferrier, Galet Square
Special Jury Prize: Micke Pintus, Yannick Pintus, Jean-Luc Perrin. The three Vacheron Constantin watchmakers who developed the Reference 57260 watch.
Big Bang Broderie from Ηublot
With public voting via the Internet and the various clock reports, the audience award - Public Prize- received the Antoine Preziuso watch, Tourbillon of Tourbillons.
The awards were served companies in London under the Salon QP held from 12 to 14 November.
Detecting new trends in the international economy
Editing: Dimitris Stamoulis
Dedicated to the “future of progress” was the 7th High Watchmaking Forum (Forum de la Haute Horlogerie) held in the Swiss city of Lausanne on 18 November.
As was the case in previous meetings, this year’s event included presentations and speeches by various distinguished personalities, who came from a wide range of horizons, including academics, scientists and politicians who came to share their experiences and their vision.
Of particular interest were issues such as innovation in China, the complexity of the companies of high watchmaking industry, examples of social progress, the situation in Europe and the dilemma of individuals on the “limits” of the theory of relativity. These are only some of the topics discussed in this forum, and a brief review follows them.
Enrico Letta, former prime minister of Italy and dean at the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po, thoroughly discussed the economic situation in Europe and more specifically on the developments following the tragic terrorist attack in Paris, set up the subject of “more” or “less” Europe. As stated, without further consolidation of unity in Europe, the “European project” has little chance to stand the test of time. He talked about the need for a coherent Europe with a strong core, able to balance the North / South divide in economic terms and the East / West on the issue of metanastefttikon flows.
Michael Green, author and economist, specialist in social progress, stressed that if there is an index that is considered the ultimate benchmark in the economy, it should be definitely the GDP, which was introduced in 1934 in the United States and has been since as a measure of performance of nations. “
Today, the concept of GNP itself is in question for the simple reason that it fails to take into account the concept of social welfare, a factor that should in fact be strengthened as a consequence of the creation of wealth.
This attitude is supported by Michael Green, who has developed his own “tool”, the social progress index (Social Progress Index). Now it preferred by many countries as a complementary indicator of GDP and is based on 52 indicators. The SPI, for example, no longer simply consider the health costs of a given economy, but rather the life expectancy of the population: an iconoclastic and very positive approach.
Winter Nie, professor of Management at IMD, mentioned in different innovation of China. As he said, twenty years ago, those who expected to dominate China in the global economy were considered at best delusional dreamers. However, the dream has become reality, with the Chinese economy today ranks second worldwide so far behind the United States.
This impressive growth is driven by the country’s companies are now being studied rather than mainly for their amazing ability to learn from their competitors, or better about how they copy them, but instead to innovation processes that have been put in application. How else can one explain the unprecedented hegemony have conquered some of these companies, such as Huawei, number one telecoms equipment company in the world and third world in smartphone industry? For Winter Nie, the magic formula is to mix pragmatism and innovation cultivated by entrepreneurs who are confident about their ability to charaxoyn the appropriate path to their consumers.
“Stress” for smartwatches and “hard” franc
Editing: Dimitris Stamoulis
Great concern and reflection is scattered in the Swiss watchmaker ever rising demand trend for so-called “smart watches”. The smartpwatches gaining more and more consumers and this is reflected not only in the different consumer behavior surveys in the world, but in a recent a survey by Deloitte LLP.
According to this research published in the agency Bloomberg, the pessimism of Swiss watchmaking for the future of this traditional for the country, industry is listed as the largest of four years.
Specifically, 41% of Swiss presidents and CEOs indicates that the outlook for the industry in the next twelve months will be negative, while only 14% of respondents consider that it will be positive. These are the highest rates of ... frustration and pessimism recorded by Deloitte since 2012, the year he began to conduct annual surveys on the state of Swiss watchmaking.
In her research, Deloitte points out that “the Swiss watch industry is at a turning point.” And it is not only the issue of the new technology of concern, but concern exists for another issue: that of large-enhancing rate of the Swiss franc, which makes it a very hard currency, which ultimately undesirable for the manufacturers of the watch of Switzerland. How can this be explained? The fact that so now, for the world consumers, the anyway expensive Swiss watches are even more expensive. It is significant that 69% of managers surveyed believes that exchange circumstances constitute a major threat to the industry.
Another problem that has arisen is the slowdown of the Chinese economy, which has reduced the desire of the Chinese consumer. And the final blow comes from another survey, this time of Research Now, showing that more than 60% of Chinese people declare their intention to acquire «smartwatch» next year!
Certainly the Swiss watchmaker not stay with crossed arms after the invasion of Apple Watch in the windows and even the domestic establishments. The Montblanc of Financiere Richemont launched its technologically advanced «e-Strap», the TAG Heyer presented Connected, while groups and Mondaine Swatch also heralded the construction and chroniclers of these smart devices. And on the other hand, Apple to win prestige and glamor has signed collaboration with Hermes to take on the elegant “tying” of Apple Watch on the wrist.
Unveiled its smartwatch “Connected”
TAG Heuer’s answer to Apple Watch debut in Nov. 9 and is called the “Connected,” the Swiss watch brand revealed recently.
Developed in partnership with Apple competitors Google and Intel, Connected reportedly will retail for about $1,400 and will be a digital version of one of TAG Heuer’s best-selling models, the black Carrera.
Though it is a smartwatch, the Connected will be recognizable as a TAG, CEO Jean-Claude Biver stressed back in March when the brand announced its plans at Baselworld. “Apple Watch looks like Apple,” he said. “TAG Heuer’s will look like TAG Heuer. TAG Heuer will have the DNA of TAG Heuer.”
Other than that, TAG Heuer has neither released nor confirmed many details about its forthcoming smartwatch, though it now has a countdown websitefor the Connected and gave a glimpse of it on Twitter Monday with this Death Star-esque photo.
TAG Heuer’s Connected teases coincided with the release of parent company’s LVMH latest year-to-date financials, which showed strong sales growth for both its watch and jewelry brands.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton reported Monday its Watches & Jewelry division recorded 10 percent organic (with comparable structure and constant exchange rates) revenue growth through the first nine months of the year. As reported, sales were up 22 percent, from $2.25 billion to $2.73 billion.
LVMH reported that Bulgari performed “remarkably well” while Hublot “grew rapidly” and opened its second production facility in the Swiss town of Nyon. TAG Heuer, meanwhile, “continued the development of its core offering.” LVMH also mentioned the unveiling of the brand’s smartwatch next month, but only briefly.
Total sales for the Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate reached $28.80 billion through the first nine months of the year, up 6 percent with comparable structure and constant exchange rates.
Watches & Jewelry was the top performer among all business groups, topping Wines & Spirits and Perfumes & Cosmetics (both up 7 percent), as well as Fashion & Leather Goods (up 5 percent), which sells the iconic Louis Vuitton handbags.
Takes veterans on a flight to remember
Editing: Dimitris Stamoulis
A group of 67 veterans from the Los Angeles area had the chance to fly to Washington, D.C. and visit the memorials dedicated to their service this week, thanks to Breitling’s support of an organization called Honor Flight Network.
Honor Flight Networkis a non-profit volunteer organization that transports veterans to the nation’s capital free of charge, to visit and reflect at the memorials there. This most recent trip, organized specifically by Honor Flight Southland, was the largest flight to date to depart from Los Angeles.
“Time is running out for many of these veterans, and we are fortunate to work with Honor Flight Network to give them ‘one last mission’ and honor them as they so rightly deserve,” said Breitling U.S.A. President Thierry Prissert.
Breitling is a longtime supporter of Honor Flight Network, helping to fly more than 400 veterans to Washington in support of the organization’s mission. California-based jeweler Westime, a Breitling partner, has joined the watch company in donating to the organization.
To further support Honor Flight Network, Breitling has introduced the special edition Honor Flight Navitimer 01, a timepiece that features the Honor Flight logo on the case back along with the statement “Honor Flight – One Last Mission.” The watch is equipped with the watch brand’s in-house Caliber 01 chronograph movement, and proceeds from its sale will go to further support the Honor Flight Network.
“It is a privilege to work with Breitling and Honor Flight Southland,” said Westime President Greg Simonian. “Our veterans give so much for our country, so it feels very meaningful to thank them with the trip to see the memorials in Washington, D.C.”
More to shop for smartwatches this holiday season
Editing: Dimitris Stamoulis
The rose gold-colored Apple Watch, which the tech company unveiled in early September, is be one of the 20 models that Target stores carry.
Port Washington, N.Y.--From wearable devices to activity trackers, the number of consumers who own a smartwatch could increase as much as 4 percent this holiday season, according to recent data from the NPD Group.
The marketing consulting company said that when it comes to smartwatches, consumers at first were stalled by price tags and continued uncertainty about the functionality of the products. However, the release of the Apple Watch last April “has made majors ripples within the smartwatch sector.”
“(Apple Watch) is much more of a mainstream product than other generation one smartwatches,” said Weston Henderek, director of wearables and connected intelligence at NPD Group, adding that even that product may not reach its full potential until the launch of a second-generation version that could offer integrated cellular connectivity.
What “integrated cellular connectively” means is a smartwatch will not be reliant on syncing with a smartphone. The current version of the Apple Watch, explains David Riley of NPD Group, does not have its own cellular connectivity. The device can connect to the iPhone via Bluetooth and then use the cellular connectivity of the phone, but without the phone, has no ability to connect to a cellular network.
“Independent cellular connectivity is one of the key differentiators that will accelerate smartwatch growth even further in the coming year,” Henderek said.
Another type of smartwatch, activity trackers and digital fitness devices, already has seen significant growth that will continue into the holiday shopping season, NPD Group said. The retail sales of these items increased 120 percent in the first eight months of the year, from $343.5 million to $754.8 million.
“That level of growth is expected to extend through the end of the year, making activity trackers some of the hottest tech gifts this holiday,” said Ben Arnold, executive director and industry analyst of consumer electronics at NPD Group. “Awareness of these products has grown tremendously over the past year, and there are a diverse number of products on the market offering a variety of features and price points.”
He added that manufactures continue to partner with designers to increase the appeal of the products.
“There is a product for every time of consumer, from the most active athlete to the mom who just wants to remember when to pick up her kids from soccer practice, on the market,” Arnold said.
NPD Group said in November 2013, awareness of activity trackers was just more than 30 percent of the U.S. market, with younger consumers being the most knowledgeable. Now, in 2015, the situation has changed--close to 82 percent of the market claims awareness of activity tracking devices.
“The wearables industry has come to a crossroads in the past six months, as the quality, depth and price points of activity trackers and smartwatches have expanded at a rapid rate,” Henderek said. “The two sectors are much more segmented now, with the activity tracker category in particular having a wide variety of price ranges, depending on features, quality and design.”