Our Top 5 has a glaring omission – there are no smartwatches featured. But aren’t these the future of timepieces? Simply put, no they’re not. Whatever the tiringly ubiquitous tech giants bombard consumers with, whether it’s Apple, Google or Samsung, the connectivity of smartwatches have not sounded the death knell for the mechanical watch industry. Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, said in 2014 that the Swiss watch industry, and, by extension, all mechanical watches, were screwed come the arrival of smartwatches. But his brash prediction has fallen flat.
As it transpires, people aren’t all that bothered about converting a wristwatch into yet another connected device. The appeal is limited to receiving notifications and fitness tracking, that’s it. Separate fitness bands can do that and still allow for a wristwatch to be an object of quality, style and craftsmanship.
Edouard Meylan, the CEO of the small but increasingly famous Swiss luxury watchmaker H. Moser & Cie., says, “Mechanical watches are beautiful objects, and smartwatches are tools. It’s misleading to even refer to them as smart ‘watches’. They’re not primarily watches – they’re devices that you happen to wear on your wrist.”
Meylan has been a disruptive force in the watch industry. He’s irreverent, provocative and unafraid to upset the creaking norms of traditional opinion. His recent stunts include making the ‘Swiss Mad’ watch, with a bezel made of 100% Swiss cheese, as a snipe about the percentage by which a brand can call something ‘Swiss Made’ (currently only 60 per cent of the watch must come from inside Switzerland to qualify) and the ‘Swiss Zzzz and Brrr’ – luxurious mechanical versions of Apple’s smartwatch that simply tell the time.
His clear point, made with refreshing humour, is that the future of watches is going to be exceptionally well-made watches. One example of which is the brand’s latest Endeavour Tourbillon Concept. H. Moser & Cie. presents an alluringly complex mechanism with beguiling appeal, and allies it with a minimalist aesthetic to underline the visual impact of the tourbillon. The brand says, “The Endeavour Tourbillon Concept represents an elegant yet contemporary reworking of the tourbillon. Only the essence remains: 100% traditional Swiss watchmaking, resolutely contemporary and utterly seductive.”
In the amusing low-budget promotional videos made to promote the Apple watch spoofs, Meylan proposes that people, “get a life and upgrade to a mechanical watch.” So, you can’t call or send messages, but that’s what your phone is for. Your watch tells the time. What could be more ultra-modern than simple functionality?