When Jonathan Ive, then Apple's chief design officer, said six years ago, "The Apple Watch is coming and the Swiss Watch is in trouble", most people didn't take it seriously.
Until last year, Apple Watch shipments surpassed Swiss watches.
But this is not the first time a Swiss watch has experienced an impact. In the 1970s, the inexpensive Japanese quartz watch quickly grew amid the arrogance of Europeans and swept the world. When people came back to their senses, the export volume of Swiss watches had fallen from 82 million to 31 million. Nearly half of the watch companies closed down, and the number of employees dropped sharply from 190,000 in their heyday to more than 30,000.
This is unbearable for Switzerland with a population of only 7 million. Almost everyone believes that the end of Swiss watches, especially mechanical watches, has come.
The development path that smart watches cannot bypass
But now that we are at a turning point in history, when we look at another turning point in history, we will find that today, Swiss watches are still at the top of the watch industry pyramid.
Clocks and watches that originated in Europe have the deepest historical precipitation here, just as they define fashion and beauty here, even though most people think this is a depression in the consumer electronics and Internet industries.
By comparing the data, we will find that the smart watch manufacturers represented by Apple and Huawei Huami are more like selling smart watches to people who are not accustomed to wearing watches, rather than letting all Longines Tissot users remove the piece from their hands. The heavy stainless steel is turned into the embrace of aluminum alloy.
It's not that the urban middle-class people are not allowed to unload their mechanical watches and put on smart watches. That's probably when they are running on the Shanghai-Guangma race track that has finally won the lottery, or doing mechanical exercises on the elliptical machine in the gym.
At this time, they might think, if my IWC or Rolex can add a few sensors, or the Garmin or Songtuo in hand can be as exquisite and beautiful as a mechanical watch.
A few years ago, traditional watches and smart watches were still very different. One was obsessed with texture and craftsmanship, while the other was obsessed with the synergy of sensor chips and vibration motors.
Unsatisfied demand is often the key to promoting world progress. Centuries ago, it was all kinds of "insatisfaction" that promoted the progress of watches. Otherwise, we are still accompanied by large pocket watches that are as heavy as a meteor hammer.
▲Watch 1505, the world's first watch
Locksmith and watchmaker Peter Henlein in Nuremberg, Germany, was the inventor of the world's first watch (actually a pocket watch), dating back to 1505.
Then came the British during the Industrial Revolution, and the Swiss craftsmen under the Alps perfected this object for hundreds of years, making it smaller, more accurate, more beautiful, and more powerful.
At the same time, the watch started from purely functional products and moved towards the positioning of objects that symbolize fashion and status, until today the Swiss watch has established an absolute position in the entire industry.
It can be said that the history of watch development is also a profile of the history of the precision manufacturing industry.
The history of the appearance of smart watches is only a few years, but the development speed of the consumer electronics industry is often several times and dozens of times that of other industries. Many categories tend to develop explosively, such as the previous computers and smart phones, and the current smart watches and real Wireless Headphones.
There are too many stories about "the princes and princes will have a kindness". Apple counterattacked, and the rise of Xiaomi is like a fast-forward movie for those century-old European brands.
The smart watch, a new device form born out of traditional objects, is consistent with the core logic of other consumer electronics products, but it is slightly different. Therefore, in addition to wearable giant brands such as Apple Huami and Huawei, there are also new brands such as Zepp that have emerged, but new brands do not necessarily mean starting from scratch.
In general, we can see that the development path of smart watches also generally follows the precedents of traditional watches: from the pure functional temperament of electronic products at the beginning, to seeking aesthetic value beyond functions, from sports scenes to seeking the presence of other scenes.
The road to rectification of wearable devices
In fact, when wearable products appeared, they were not unaware of their impact on the old aesthetic system as a new thing.
If it sounds good, these products have a "geek" feeling; if you don't sound it, these products have a "feeling of foreign body" in the eyes of the public.
▲Google Glass at New York Fashion Week
In 2012, Google Glass fell from the sky at the Google I/O conference, without a doubt one of the best new product appearances in the history of technology. From the very beginning, it tried to add some fashion attributes to the "geek" equipment. At that time, many fashion shows, including occasions like New York Fashion Week, Google Glass appeared as accessories.
Later, Samsung also followed this method and made its own smart watches appear on the catwalk stage.
As for Apple, the most successful smartwatch, it does not want to make the Apple Watch a brand new thing like the iPhone. From the beginning of the 18K gold Apple Watch Edition with a price of up to 100,000 yuan to the Hermès strap version, it means that Jonathan Ive, a British Sir who is well versed in fashion, wants to make this product away from conventional consumer electronics Product category.
Another example is that the editors who get the watch for evaluation from Apple are not only from the technology and digital field, but also from fashion magazines.
▲Huami's Amazfit moon cream sports bracelet
In addition to attempts to get people to accept new product categories through a series of operations, some manufacturers are also trying to find other ways to reduce the "feeling of foreign bodies" in the product itself. Misfit, a star startup company many years ago, made pedometers into accessories, while Huami, which had just established its own brand Amazifit at that time, chose the more traditional Chinese aesthetic jade as a carrier to carry the sports monitoring function.
To this day, as a pioneer of wearable devices, Google Glass has still failed to earn a fashion label for itself. After the acquisition of the Misfit brand, few people know it. As for Huami, after the initial attempts, it became clear that the screen is an integral part of wearable devices. The obtrusive appearance or weak functions are not enough to support the industry forward.
There is no doubt that smart watches still need functional and technical support. So a few years ago, WWDC2017 Apple used the software and hardware products of the smart motion sensor brand Zepp as a demonstration carrier of the new features of Apple Watch, which can also be regarded as the foreshadowing of the future evolution of smart watches: smart watches are ultimately the best for sports monitoring and health management form.
▲Zepp Tennis application demonstrated at WWDC2017
▲A short-lived Pebble smart watch
Various manufacturers of various manufacturers have proved that smart watches appear on the human body in the form of a shell and a screen, which is too cyberpunk. However, removing the screen and wrapping the sensors under a delicate shell has less functionality and cannot provide users with much practical value.
To some extent, the continual improvement of the smart watch market today is the result of various previous attempts: the retention of market recognition and the abandonment of those that the market does not recognize.
How does a product think about the past and the future?
Smart watches and traditional watches now seem to be by no means two distinct product forms.
The inherent form of smart watches is not screen plus touch control, and traditional watches are not a bunch of gears that remain unchanged for a century.
Otherwise, it is impossible to explain why smart watches are all made of analog pointer dials. From a functional point of view, digital dials are undoubtedly more efficient and concise, but the aesthetic value of traditional watches is still important at this moment.
However, the dial is just a kind of similarity that everyone can make, and more similarities can also be inherited. For example, the old and new fusion in the material of the body and the interactive method.
Last month, Zepp released a flagship smart watch Zepp Z. In terms of functional polishing and design, perhaps a balance has been found in the "game" between smart watches and traditional watches.
In fact, the history of the Zepp brand itself also means that professional technology embraces the classics of the masses. Zepp, born in Silicon Valley in 2010, was the first to use its leading sensor algorithm and motion modeling technology to provide smart sports hardware for professional athletes, with a market share of more than 70%. Later, after Huami Technology acquired Zepp's core assets, with the help of Huami's data analysis capabilities and AI algorithm system, Zepp further began to create wearable products suitable for the masses.
With a solid technical foundation, after determining the product form of smart watches, Zepp needs to further think about what is a mature and reasonable smart watch form? Is there a state of balance and harmony among smart watches with a wide variety of functions and appearances?
Zepp launched the Zepp E smartwatch earlier this year, and launched two forms of square and circle in one breath, taking care of the difficulty of choice, and to a certain extent, solving the contradiction of different aesthetics.
On the recently launched Zepp Z, Zepp has another mature thinking: the function is "modern", and the appearance is designed to eliminate the "foreign body".
Titanium alloy is probably the most suitable metal as the material of the smart watch case. It is as light as aluminum, as strong as steel, and has a unique and low-key metallic texture.
The combination of rigidity and softness of metal and cowhide happens to be an analogy for Zepp Z to shuttle between the old and the new.
What is "shuttle between the old and the new"?
Winding the crown on a mechanical watch is a very ceremonial move. Even though automatic mechanical watches are popular now, the rotation of the crown is still the historical sentiment of mechanical watches.
On a smart watch without a clockwork, can the crown only be used as an ornament to rotate without mechanical or interaction?
In the era of touch screens, many excellent and elegant interaction methods have been replaced, but the knob interaction is undoubtedly an intuition, humane, and interesting interaction. On Zepp Z, the combination of the crown and the linear motor is an elegant complement to the interaction of the smaller screen of the smart watch, and it is also a rebirth of the traditional watch form.
In fact, many new products and old designs can easily be superfluous, but the crown on Zepp Z is not contrary to the appropriate scene and the right technology, but it also means that it can be integrated.
This "through" state can actually reflect that smart watches are now beginning to mature in product form. Of course, it is not only the material matching, functional aesthetics, but also the use scenes that go through the coordination.
If Zepp Z enhances the value and texture of the watch, business people are also willing to wear it to match formal wear. So naturally manufacturers also need to know that in addition to ensuring the smart watch's motion monitoring function, they offer another lifestyle scene function, such as schedule management, online and offline voice assistants, transportation card access cards and so on.
In the past few years since the advent of smartwatch bracelets, it is easy for us to track the daily accumulated steps of this category, such as from the earliest step counting, to heart rate monitoring, and to multiple sports mode monitoring. Zepp's smart sensor technology that has been practiced in the field of professional sports for more than ten years is integrated with Huami's AI health system and finally becomes a "health button" on Zepp Z, bringing heart rate monitoring, atrial fibrillation warning, ECG testing, blood oxygen saturation testing, pressure monitoring, etc. are more health-related data. To a certain extent, Zepp has changed from a sports partner to a health steward.
At the same time, advances in sensors, chip technology and software technology have allowed smart watches to have a long-lasting battery life from the very beginning of a day.
Nowadays, many smart watches no longer need to be on the catwalk to rectify their names, because they have found their own aesthetic coordinates. But we are looking at the TC4 titanium alloy case polished by metal drawing and corrosion coloring on Zepp Z, the imported top layer cowhide appearance combination, linear motor, BioTracker 2 PPG high-precision bio-tracking optical sensor, electrode type ECG sensor As well as the internal composition of the RealBeats heart rate engine, we can understand that a smart watch that can be worn by users anytime and anywhere requires thinking and practice.
At the same time, don't forget the wrong path that the industry has taken to achieve this goal.
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