Apple Watch Critical Review Essay

I'm not even sure we can call it a watch. Okay, it goes on the wrist, and it happens to tell the time, but that's about where the similarities between Apple's just announced watch and the hand-assembled, often painstakingly finished mechanical watches we write about, and obsess over, end. I was lucky enough to be invited to Cupertino to witness the announcement of the Apple Watch firsthand, and though I do not believe it poses any threat to haute horology manufactures, I do think the Apple Watch will be a big problem for low-priced quartz watches, and even some entry-level mechanical watches. In years to come, it could pose a larger threat to higher end brands, too. The reason? Apple got more details right on their watch than the vast majority of Swiss and Asian brands do with similarly priced watches, and those details add up to a really impressive piece of design. It offers so much more functionality than other digitals it's almost embarrassing. But it's not perfect, by any means. Read on to hear my thoughts on the Apple Watch, from the perspective of a watch guy. Oh, and there are dozens of in-the-metal pictures, too.

Consumers are taking a wait-and-see approach to the emerging smartwatch category, with many waiting to see the second-generation Apple Watch before committing to a purchase, a new survey shows.

A survey by Mizuho Securities found that Apple (AAPL) iOS device users have the highest level of interest in smartwatches. But most will wait until at least the second version of the Apple Watch before pulling the trigger.

"Given that this is a nascent category, we think vendors such as Apple will require multiple iterations of the product to realize momentum in consumer adoption," Mizuho analyst Abhey Lamba said in a research report Wednesday. "Additionally, survey participants indicated high price points of the watch as an inhibitor to adoption."

The Apple Watch starts at $349. Research firm Wristly told Reuters that the Apple Watch sells for an average of $529, including accessories.

Lamba rates Apple stock as neutral, with a price target of 125. Apple stock was up a fraction, near 110, in afternoon trading on the stock market today.

Mizuho surveyed more than 1,600 people in September to gauge their interest in watches.

About one-fourth of iOS users surveyed said they intend to get a smartwatch. "However, most of the users who intend to purchase the device are expecting to do it in about 9-12 months from now," Lamba said. "As such, we think subsequent releases of Apple Watch, and the level of innovation offered in them, is highly critical for further expansion of the category."

Still Just A Niche

The Apple Watch is likely to remain a niche product for now, he said. Wall Street expects Apple to ship 3 million to 3.5 million watches in the September quarter and about 6 million units in the December quarter, Lamba said, citing FactSet consensus figures.

About 60% of survey respondents do not intend to purchase any watch in the next two years, while nearly one-fourth of respondents plan to buy a traditional watch. Only 15-20% of respondents plan to buy a smartwatch, Lamba said.

Reasons cited for not wanting a smartwatch include preference for traditional watches and the high price of smartwatches, he said.

Apple Watch 2 likely will arrive in mid- to late 2016, Cowen analyst Timothy Arcuri said in a report Monday. It will be thinner and feature better biometrics, he said.

Other rumors about the second-generation Apple Watch have pointed to longer battery life and ability to work independently of an iPhone.

Apple released its first Apple Watch on April 24.

Apple rival Samsung will begin selling its Gear S2 smartwatch on Friday. It features a 1.2-inch round watch-face display and starts at $299.

A premium version coming later this fall will be able to connect to a 3G network, so it can operate independently of a mobile phone. Pricing for that model has not yet been announced.

The Gear S2 is Samsung's fourth-generation smartwatch. It ditches the curved rectangular screen of its predecessors.


Don't dismiss the Apple Watch; it might replace your iPhone

Apple Watch looking pretty square vs. rival smartwatches.

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