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Swiss Get Their Knickers In A Twist Over Apple & Samsung’s Success

Swiss watch makers who have got their knickers in a twist over the success of Apple, Samsung and Android smart watches have been told to get a life and start embracing their technology rivals.

Currently the diehard Swiss watch makers have managed to get the tech watch brands banned from Baselworld the watch and jewellery fair in Switzerland.

This show is seen as the global showcase for the Swiss watch industry that now has two core problems, traditional watch sales are starting to fall despite big rises in Asia, and the Swiss watch industry have failed to work out how to appeal to the audience that are investing in iOS and Android watches.

Now one on the most powerful men in luxury retailing has said it is time to stop seeing smartwatch makers Apple and Google as threats.

Jean-Claude Biver, who runs watchmakers Tag Heuer, Hublot, and Zenith, told the BBC overnight that the smartwatch will boost his industry.

Mr Biver was instrumental in reviving the Swiss industry after it was devastated in the 1970s and ’80s by Japan’s quartz battery revolution.

The entrepreneur also warned about the impact of a US-China trade war.

He said that Apple and Samsung should be invited to exhibit at the event.

But Mr Biver, now head of watches at French luxury goods giant LVMH, said traditionalists in the industry would be against it. “A lot of people wouldn’t want Apple here. I know people who say this [event] should only be for the Swiss.

“The Apple watch is a watch: it’s a bracelet that gives you information: hours, minutes, the date.

“But there are too many people here [in Basel] who don’t think it’s a watch. There are people here who say, if you’re not Swiss you can’t be here. It’s like telling, say, Kia they can’t come to the Geneva Motor Show because they are South Korean.”

The BBC said that Biver’s sideswipe at sections of the industry will resonate because of his decades of experience in deal-making and reviving brands, especially after Japanese manufacturers emerged as powerful competitors with their quartz battery products.

His early use of product placements, notably in James Bond films, and celebrity endorsements are now routine in the luxury goods sector.

Apple sold about 20 million smartwatches last year, and many analysts think it is the next big challenge for the Swiss industry.

He said that Apple and Samsung have made smartwatches hugely popular among younger consumers.

Mr Biver said on of the biggest challenges facing his industry is getting a new generation to buy traditional watches.

“Apple and Samsung are promoters of the watch because they teach people to wear something on their wrist.

“Imagine a generation who did not wear any watch. It would be much more difficult for us to sell them something.”

The traditional watch makers should embrace Apple and Samsung rather than run away because they could learn so much, the industry veteran said.

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