Read This Before Buying Another Wristwatch
You may have scoffed at the folks scrambling to pre-order an Apple Watch. Who would pay as much as $17,000 for a wristwatch that lacks some basic computing features? However, when Apple (AAPL) sold out of its initial supply of smartwatches within minutes -- reportedly receiving north of a million orders on the first day alone -- it could have been the end of the high-end wristwatch era.
It's fair if you don't feel that way. You're entitled to call the early adopters iSheep. However, before you spend three or four figures on another wristwatch, you may want to consider the shifting tides.
Sign of the Times
You probably didn't own a smartphone until after Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007. Outside of white-collared pros on BlackBerry or Palm devices to remain tethered to email, most people owned traditional mobile phones or none at all. Apple made the smartphone a viable product for consumers. It didn't happen overnight, but it did happen.
The same thing happened three years later when Apple rolled out the iPad. A lot of people thought the tablet would fail. Why do we need a larger smartphone or a smaller PC? The iPad changed that perception, and it wasn't long before classrooms, travelers, and folks relaxing in the living room were surfing the Web or engaging with apps on their touchscreen tablets.
Why should Apple's success be any different with the Apple Watch? For starters, unlike the original $599 iPhone and $499 iPad, the Apple Watch starts at a more reasonable $349. Apple also will have a substantial pool of potential buyers, having sold 700 million iPhones since its entry into the smartphone market. Apple is an undeniable tastemaker, and any initial shortcomings of the device itself -- including the lack of built-in GPS or the limited 18-hour battery life -- will likely either be addressed in future updates or will be deemed unnecessary by the market as a whole.
It's probably not a coincidence that the long overdue arrival of the Apple Watch has led some Wall Street pros to sour on the publicly traded Fossil and Movado. It's not a surprise that iPhone owners tend to be better off than average consumers, and there's probably a fair degree of overlap between folks owning Fossil and Movado timepieces and iPhones. It's against this backdrop that some analysts are starting to grow concerned.
"After trying on the Apple Watch, visiting stores, and based on our field work, we are now more convinced that the Apple Watch will be disruptive to the fashion watch market," the analysts at Pacific Crest Securities wrote in a note to clients. "At a minimum, the widespread buzz may cause something of a standstill in the watch market."
"We think the level of disruption could be significant and are reducing our estimates for Fossil and Movado," they concluded.
No one is suggesting that the Apple Watch will put these companies out of business. However, with Apple seemingly selling as many smartwatches in a single day as the collective makers of Android-based smartwatches have since the niche erupted into the mainstream two years ago, it's definitely going to slow sales of traditional luxury watches.
No one is going to wear both a smartwatch and wristwatch, so potential buyers of high-end timepieces will need to ask themselves how long they plan to keep their next Fossil, Movado or Rolex watches? If it's longer than they'll be laughing at the Apple Watch or smartwatches in general they may want to reconsider the purchase in the first place.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Fossil. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.