Image courtesy of iphoneincanada.ca

Amidst the world’s increasing reliance on technology, luxury watches have stood the test of time. While many predicted that luxury watches would someday become relics of the past, consumer appreciation of their impeccable craftsmanship has ensured that they have remained ever popular. However, there’s a new competitor on the watch market that seems to be giving the major luxury watch brands some pause: the Apple Watch.

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the Apple Watch is now the top selling watch in the world. In that same report, the WSJ said that last holiday season, the Apple Watch sold more watches than every Swiss watch brand combined.

While luxury watches and Apple Watches are generally considered to appeal to different types of consumers, luxury watch brands have clearly taken notice of this sales trend and are looking to compete in the smartwatch market. How are they doing it? With hybrid watches that incorporate both old world craftsmanship and smartwatch technology.

One luxury brand, TAG Heuer has already released two hybrid watches. While their first model, the Connected Modular 45, received some criticism for its bulky size, the company recently released the smaller Connected Modular 41, hoping to create a more comfortable wear. Tag Heuer partnered with Intel to create their hybrid watches, which combine exceptional Swiss materials with smartwatch functionalities. The Connected Modular 41 has been a success for the brand, and TAG Heuer’s chief executive explained why, saying, “it really looks and feels like a real watch, but with all the information you need.”

TAG Heuer isn’t the only luxury watch brand to get into the hybrid watch market. Hublot recently released their limited edition Big Bang Referee smartwatch in partnership with the 2018 World Cup. While this watch was designed for wear by referees, Hublot released 2,018 models for sale to the public, which came with unique World Cup functions, like in-game alerts and 32 different watch faces to show support for different countries.

While TAG Heuer and Hublot are among the first luxury watch brands to release hybrid watches, its been widely rumored that many luxury watch brands are also working on smartwatches of their own.

The development of these hybrid watches seems to be a preventative strategy for luxury watchmakers. While Apple Watch sales have boomed, Apple has yet to make much of an impact on luxury watch sales. Instead, Swiss watch brands that make similarly priced watches (the Apple Watch starts at $399) have seen the largest impact.

Yet, this move toward creating luxury smartwatches shows that luxury watch brands are not ruling out the possibility of the Apple Watch’s continued growth. By creating watches that have both luxury appeal and technological functionality, it appears that luxury watch brands have decided to hedge their bets.