Watch

The Future Development of Watch

How can a watch become a luxury item on an industrial assembly line? Every major watch brand has its own grandiose explanations, justifying why age-old mechanical watches still lead fashion trends and why they deserve to empty consumers’ wallets more than other brands. However, in my opinion, what truly grants watches their luxury status isn’t just the brand or sentimentality; it’s the fusion of design aesthetics and cutting-edge technology within these small devices.

It’s these characteristics, like the ceramic case watches that led a new trend in the watch field before modern ceramic materials became widespread, that signal the impending era of transformation for the watch manufacturing industry. With the advent of the smart era, represented by smartphones, 5G, mobile payments, and AI, a quiet revolution is already underway in the watch industry. According to statistics from Swiss exports since 2021, brands including Rolex, Omega, Lange, and Patek Philippe are seeing a year-on-year decline in watch exports. The most significant drop is in entry-level quartz watches, being replaced by smartwatches that have rapidly gained popularity in recent years.

Unlike traditional watches, smartwatches are not limited to the now almost redundant function of time display; they incorporate features like calling, music, and health tracking. These additional functions not only provide more possibilities for smartwatches but also offer greater creative scope for watch designers.

However, the most direct impact on the watch industry has been the rise of smartwatches, causing a significant disruption to the traditional watchmaking landscape. In an era dominated by mechanical and quartz watches, the watch industry, due to its demand for technical precision, was concentrated in Western countries led by Switzerland.

The rise of smartwatches has shifted this dynamic, with Asia, having a more complete electronics industry chain, making rapid advances in watchmaking. Led by domestic brands like Huawei, as smartwatches gain more market recognition, the entire production layout of the watch industry may undergo significant changes.

While these drastic shifts in the industry structure are still some way off, the most immediate change in watchmaking is in materials. Influenced by environmentalism, the exploration of more energy-efficient and effective new materials is ongoing. This includes potential future materials like silicon wafers, gravity metals, and even graphene nano-coatings, already being tested in some smartphones.

However, compared to these emerging materials still in the exploratory stage, ceramic watch cases made of matured zirconia material already have a complete production technology and a broad audience. The physical properties of ceramic, such as resistance to wear and corrosion, give ceramic case watches advantages over traditional metal materials, not just in maintenance and repair but also in terms of future appreciation potential.

More importantly, as a new material, the success of zirconia ceramics in the watch industry represents the first successful step of the watch industry into new materials. Thus, regardless of how ceramic watches evolve in the future, as pioneers of new materials, they will leave a significant mark in the history of watch collecting and human history.

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