You’ve heard ad nauseam about the Apple Watch over the last week. The features, the function, and probably most of all, the design. Many think it’s stylish, some don’t (see here, here and here). Yes, the Apple Watch is lauded by men, who find it both functional and stylish, but will women embrace it? And if so, which women?
Watches Become a Daily Fashion Accessory
Let’s rewind to about five years ago. In the luxury market, oversized/boyfriend watches hit the market – this Chanel watch alone was featured heavily in press and ads, and ultimately sparked a slew of similar styles from competitors. Suddenly, watches were new again – not only a great Father’s Day gift, but an essential fashion accessory for women.
And women of all ages responded by collecting watches as they do handbags or shoes – in a variety of styles, sizes and colors. While luxury designer watches like Chanel were featured in fashion magazines, it was the affordable yet aspirational brands like Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, among others, that became de rigueur for millennials and Gen X.
By 2012, with strong success in the category, lifestyle brands (Kate Spade,etc.) and traditional watch brands (Fossil, etc.) responded with new offerings and styles, from rose gold and mixed metals, to various face styles (oval, round, square), bracelet/strap styles and even sizes (dainty watches recently made a comeback). Suddenly there were watches that fit every style and budget – from millennials to Boomers. By 2013, many fashion-conscious women owned a “watch wardrobe,” changing their watch daily, they way they change their handbag or shoes.
Introducing…the Apple Watch
Fast forward to today. Apple introduces the Apple Watch, with three styles (Apple Watch, Sport and Edition), two sizes and a plethora of customizable options – from colorful straps to rose gold. That’s a good thing, since watches have become a critical fashion accessory for women. But is it enough?
Who Will Buy the Apple Watch?
It’s a good bet that the Sport versions will likely appeal to young, millennial women – they’re young enough to have missed the Swatch watch and G-Shock crazes in the 80s and 90s, and the tech features will appeal to them. Cost may be an issue for many (the Apple Watch starts at $349) but millennials have been shown to spend on technology even when budgets are tight.
The more fashion-forward and expensive rose gold and gold versions will no doubt appeal to women in the global fashion industry. In fact, I would expect to see this version prominently featured Fashion Week street style images, in the press, worn by fashion bloggers, etc.
But I believe that for Gen X and Boomer women, the Apple Watch is probably less appealing – particularly after they’ve created their watch wardrobes over the last five years and aren’t looking for yet another one, no matter what features it offers.
So what’s my take? Well, the short answer is that the Apple Watch is probably right for some women (millennials, high fashion), but not nearly all – at least, not yet.