An NPD survey is suggesting that the Apple Watch has pushed watch sales to the lowest point since 2008. NPD has found that watchmakers sold $375 million worth of watches in July, down 11 percent from last year.
This decline is the largest since a similar decline in 2008 due to the financial crisis.
The suggestion that Apple had something to do with this is, at this point, specious. However, I would argue that the entire gamut of smartwatches – from Pebble, Motorola, Fitbit and Apple – are putting a serious dent in the fashion watch market.
Summer is traditionally a tough time for watchmakers. Kids have graduated so there are no Rolexen to be bought. There are few holidays in these fallow months and, barring a bit of duty-free tourist trade, there are few opportunities for folks to pick up anything new.
Furthermore, the industry has been fairly low-key over the past year in reaction to confusing consumer demand. The Sistem 51 by Swatch has gained a certain notoriety in the low-end market, but other manufacturers have priced themselves up and out of the fashion world, forcing them to work in cyclical holiday markets.
Ultimately the watch industry is up against the wall. When faced with the choice between a Fossil and a Fitbit, I suspect the average tech-savvy buyer would buy the fitness band. While this should leave watch lovers aghast, it’s the state of things and it will soon be the new normal.