As any beneficiary of today’s Twitter beef culture will tell you, there’s no such thing as bad press. This appears to especially true for Apple’s mildly controversial smartwatch, which has just edged out Rolex (and Tag Heuer, Cartier, and Patek Phillippe) to become the most obsessed-over “luxury” watch brand, according to a luxury brand report by analytics company NetBase. It sounds a bit ridiculous to put the Apple Watch in the same category as tourbillons that frequently fetch over $1 million. Evidently luxury, in this context, is less about price tags and more about the fancy “vibe” conveyed by collaborations with high-end French fashion houses and retail stores run by a former Burberry CEO. It is the only smartwatch to make the cut.
The report measured social media mentions and consumer sentiment from more than 700 million posts between 2014 and 2015, reports Cult of Mac. It sought to mention the “passion” inspired by luxury brands using a Brand Passion Index that balanced intensity of feelings with overall sentiment expressed on the Internet. Surprisingly, though Apple’s smartwatch was the most hotly discussed watch model, this does not come at any detriment to manufacturers of traditional (and eye-wateringly expensive) timepieces. The “passion intensity” surrounding watches in general has now risen to 77 percent, which is above the luxury brand category average of 69 percent and also above chocolate. Overall mentions of Rolex increased 48 percent in one year.
Sarah Carlsen, head of press at Cartier, agrees that the demand for watches has changed but not slackened. “The showy buyers of a bull market are long gone,” she told NetBase. “We are now selling to men looking to make an intelligent purchase; looking to be part of an unspoken club of those who know, understand, and appreciate the complications of an haute horology timepiece.”
Whether or not discussion translated to sales was not measured, but it seems to suggest that rumors about the death of the traditional wristwatch may be wildly exaggerated. Or that when it comes to tech versus traditional elegance, you can have your cake and eat it too. Particularly if LVMH has anything to do with it.