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Why should I buy a Swiss watch?

Although smartwatches have been labelled the enfant terrible of haute horlogerie, their presence simply makes a stronger case for the traditional Swiss watch. More prestigious? Undoubtedly. Pricier? Not always. Filled with the same technological detail? Of sorts. So we hear you ask the question – just why should I buy a Swiss watch?

Whilst not quite as rapid as the world of fashion, haute horlogerie has always been an industry of change. The big manufactures (Cartier, Vacheron Constantin and Rolex, to name but a few) may be in direct competition with one another, but this rivalry is healthy if not beneficial; without the iconic Rolex Submariner, would we still have Cartier’s innovative dive watch, the Calibre de Cartier? And as both brands command such global attention, would Vacheron Constantin have produced the world’s most complicated pocket watch otherwise?

This tradition of one-upmanship has always bolstered the Swiss watch industry, but nobody was quite expecting Apple to release the ‘smartwatch’ in 2015. For the first time since the Quartz Crisis, opposition came from a dark horse outsider, grabbed the Jura by the shoulders and gave everyone a rather rude awakening call. The elite watchmakers didn’t label the rise of the smartwatch a real threat but regardless, Apple made a few good sales and the manufactures had a bit of a rethink – and it turns out the drain of midnight oil was decidely a good thing. Brand new movements and tech luxe fusions (more about that later) erupted from Switzerland but it did raise a very good question to the watch outsiders – exactly why should I buy a Swiss watch?

Smartphone features are now an everyday part of general activity – the morning commute always commands a quick flick of Instagram and we’re all far too accustomed to the baby scans of Facebook. The smartwatch takes full advantage of this. Offering an additional way of browsing social media feeds and updating your email, the digital connection on your wrist, whilst handy, is just that – purely digital. Software updates and a Kim Kardashian-emoji background from the app store may be readily available, but nothing quite compares to the mechanical authenticity of a Swiss watch. Take for example the Hublot Classic Fusion in rose gold. With multiple components, – you might not be able to check the latest #ThrowbackThursday, but you can channel a beautifuly decorated world-renowned piece every day for probably the rest of your life. No disrepect to the screen-glare-hardy programmer, but uploading software is hardly assembling a 246-part watch by hand.

Furthermore, Swiss watches often surpass gadgetry trends. The likes of Baume & Mercier and Montblanc offer plenty of timepieces that transcends years if not decades – your traditional Classima will always find a place on your wrist, whether it’s that grad scheme interview or your 30th wedding anniversary. Can the same be said for your iPod Nano that ruled the roost in Year 9? Didn’t think so.

The classicists may always prefer the authentic Swiss article but what of Generation Y? It could be argued that priorities lay elsewhere, that they want style, brand prestige and a digital connection in their clobber. No problem, Switzerland replied. Keen to innovate and move with the times, Frederique Constant, Montblanc and TAG Heuer all released their own smart-horlogerie hybrids to critical acclaim – never before had new school media been married with old school luxury and a huge gap in the market was filled. And, to make things even better, they all offered something a little different.

Frederique Constant’s smartwatch revealed a smart element via MotionX® technology. Everyday activities including sleep patterns are logged with analogue dials and are communicated using a downloadable application on Apple and Android smartphones. The Montblanc e-Strap maintained all the Swiss craftsmanship (nothing to the dial and movement was altered) whilst bolstering the interchangeable strap; alerts, messages and email notifications are all sent directly to a screen on the wrist. And finally, TAG Heuer went full frontal on the digital so to speak – the Connected is fully interactive akin to Apple’s horological foray and even received the full backing of technology giant Google.

So, if the prestige and craftsmanship of a traditional Swiss watch isn’t enough for you, you can always invest in the burgeoning combinations of both worlds. Haute horlogerie is built to last and by fusing the two, you’ve got the best of quality and the availability of digital functionality. But never forget – Swiss watches have been around for hundreds of years and if the horological world’s latest offerings are anything to go by, they’ll be around for plenty more.