Apple sold 50% more wristwatches in 2019 than the entire Swiss watch industry combined, according to research by Strategy Analytics, a consumer insight consultant whose estimates on the breakdown of sales of Apple products are considered reliable by the tech industry.
Apple does not reveal precise numbers of Apple Watch sales, reporting them only within its Wearables category.
Apple Watch shipped 31 million units worldwide in 2019, Strategy Analytics estimates. This compares with 21 million for all Swiss watch brands combined, the company says, although the real number is a little higher. There were 20,633,566 watches exported from Switzerland in 2019, according to the Federation of Swiss Watch Industry. An additional one million watches are sold within Switzerland per year.
Regardless, Apple has emerged from nowhere in 2015, when it launched its first watch, to outsell an industry that had a head start of centuries.
The good news for the Swiss is that Apple does not appear to be harming sales of its traditional watches. Unit sales for export dropped by 13% last year, but the value of exports rose by 3% to a new record of CHF 21.7 billion.
However, it does look unlikely the Swiss will make any progress pushing back the tide when it comes to smartwatches. Apple has already blown away the competition.
“We estimate Apple Watch shipped 30.7 million units worldwide in 2019, growing a healthy 36% from 22.5 million in 2018. A blend of attractive design, user-friendly tech and sticky apps makes the Apple Watch wildly popular in North America, Western Europe and Asia,” says Steven Waltzer, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.
“Traditional Swiss watch makers, like Swatch and Tissot, are losing the smartwatch wars. Apple Watch is delivering a better product through deeper retail channels and appealing to younger consumers who increasingly want digital wristwear. The window for Swiss watch brands to make an impact in smartwatches is closing. Time may be running out for Swatch, Tissot, TAG Heuer, and others,” he adds.