Almost a year after the release of Apple’s first watch, it is often said – and even on watch forums – that the succes of the Apple Watch is part of the reason for the disappointing results of the Swiss watch industry, that has led to an immediate staff decline, at several large Swiss manufactures.
To me this is very questionable, not to use the word non-sense. Any person who loves high quality watches, may buy the Apple Watch, just because it’s fun or out of curiosity. But that $300 dollar sexy gadget, what the Apple Watch is, will not change people’s interest in good, or high-end, mechanical watches. It is still a fact is that the watch industry in general, is not amused to face the succes that Apple has, mildly put. The overal design, the high quality of the various components and excellent marketing, has not gone unnoticed.
But there is no need for the industry to learn from the Apple watch. The Swiss brands should continue in what they’re good at and what they are admired for; creating high quality mechanical time pieces. But the one part of the Apple Watch that – in my opinion – will and should be a source of inspiration for the industry, in the years to come, is the steel bracelet. Not only the convenience of exchanging the bracelet for a strap in a jiffy, but the beautiful and ingenious way the bracelet is constructed and the ease to take out or add a link, is extra-ordinary. When the Apple bracelet is compared to any steel bracelet, made by the top Swiss brands, it is obvious that there is a difference.
All brands produce bracelets that have these often annoying and obstructing components, on the inside of the bracelet. The components that fold flat, on the inside, when the bracelet is closed and open up, when the watch is taken off the wrist. But folding flat is a very elegant way of describing it, since these parts still take up some room on the inside and can still be felt. This part of watch bracelets never won a beauty price and it is very strange that it was never improved.
Apple’s take on the bracelets closing mechanism:
The bracelet that Apple designed, is not that much different and works the same way as any other butterfly system, but now the folding parts disappear completely in the bracelet. The result is a smooth surface on the inside, without any visible mechanism.
When giving it a closer look, it is remarkable that this ultra cool design, that doesn’t look as it is too complex to produce, was not invented earlier.
But the genius does not stop here, I also have to mention the pushers, located on the side that will release the bracelet. While they’re usually sticking out on both sides on many other existing bracelets, the Apple pushers are integrated within the design of the bracelet, giving it a smooth and slick look.
The secret how Apple was able to produce such a high-end and user friendly bracelet has a name: Marc Newson. Newson is one of the leading industrial designers, that was hired by Apple’s Head of Design, Jonathan Ives, to join him setting up and selecting the first ideas for the Apple Watch, that had to bring Apple back to the front pages of international media.
Newson and Ives are very good friends, have a world of industrial designers around them and together they form one of the most powerful design teams in the world. It goes without saying that we will see more surprises when the second version of the watch will be introduced.
The future will tell how this bracelet will keep up after wearing it for several years. For now, Apple’s stainless steel link bracelet, with butterfly closure, belongs – in my opinion – to the very best watch bracelets around and I am sure that the industry will learn from this piece of high quality industrial design.