Global smartwatch shipments outnumbered those of Swiss watches for the first time ever in the final quarter of 2015 as the market for the electronic timepieces soared.
Shipments of smartwatches increased more than fourfold to 8.1 million units in the three months to December, while Swiss watch shipments declined 4.8 percent to 7.9 million units, according to research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.
Smartwatch sales are growing fast in North America, Western Europe and Asia, with the Apple watch capturing 63 percent of the global market during the quarter, according to the research.
“The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches,” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement February 18.
“The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away. Swiss brands, like Tag Heuer, accounted for a tiny 1 percent of all smartwatches shipped globally during the fourth quarter, and they are a long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smartwatch category.”
Tag Heuer launched its smartwatch in 2015 in partnership with Google and Intel.
The news comes on the back of a torrid 2015 for the Swiss watch industry, with the value of timepieces exports from the country decreasing 3.3 percent over the previous year and shipments to its biggest trade partner, Hong Kong, sliding 23 percent. A 33-percent decline in the value of Swiss watch exports to Hong Kong in January was the 12th consecutive month of declines, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.