Info-tech

Is Apple making a fashion statement with its timepiece?

| | Updated on: Mar 10, 2015
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The iPhone and iPad maker is targeting the high-fashion industry with its watch

Now that Tim Cook has outlined the full range of what the Apple Watch can do and how much it will cost, his next challenge will be proving high-tech can be high fashion.

In addition to laying out its uses, Apple has been careful to market the device as stylish. The company paid for a 12-page advertising spread in this month’s Vogue magazine. On Monday, Cook unveiled a version laden with gold that retails for $10,000 or more.

With sleek design and easy-to-use interfaces, Apple has turned products such as smartphones into must-have accessories. Now, the company’s task is to persuade style-conscious consumers that its watch is both useful and chic. “The question is, can they really sell this thing as a fashion item?” said Jan Kniffen, CEO of J Rogers Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises, a retail consulting and equity-research firm in New York.

The watch comes in two sizes, with the Sport model priced at $349 and $399 and the midrange version starting at $549. The high-end Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000. Its battery will run for 18 hours with typical use.

Links to iPhone The timepiece links to a wearer’s iPhone, and can display messages, alerts and appointments, among other things.

An array of apps can track fitness, arrange a car with Uber, and even open a garage door remotely.

The rectangular watch face display can be changed by the user to feature a range of styles, from Mickey Mouse pointing his hands at the time to a simple digital clock.

Cook said thousands of app developers have been at work building products for Apple Watch.

Apple is counting on such apps to help define those must-have services for customers who have so far shrugged off smartwatches made by Samsung Electronics, Motorola, LG Electronics. and Sony.

Fashionistas not convinced Some luxury-watch buyers are not interested. Kevin Rolle, an investment banker, said: “The Apple Watch does not stand out as a must-buy. I prefer high-end watches — it’s not really high end.” He added: “I think Apple is more of an electronics company.” Up-and-coming Dutch model Julia Van Os dismissed the new device in an interview with Reuters. “I haven’t heard anyone talking about it,” she said. “It’s a different world; it’s more technology. People don’t wear that kind of watch in fashion.”

A salesman at the famed department store Printemps agreed, saying his store won’t carry the watch, not even the high-end Apple 18-karat gold edition, priced at $10,000.

“You have to understand. We are luxury brands, and [the Apple Watch is] more technology,” he said. Printemps carries brands such as Rolex, Montblanc and Longines.

New York-based Luxury consultant Robert Burke said the Apple Watch simply “hasn't resonated strongly” in the fashion world. “The tech world and the watch world are very different,” he added.

Published on January 24, 2018

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