Montblanc Rides Smartwatch Wave as E-Strap Sales Top Outlookby
E-strap accessory reads emails, tracks physical activity
Too soon to tell if Apple Watch is disruptive, CEO says
Montblanc Chief Executive Officer Jerome Lambert said initial sales of the brand’s intelligent watchstrap are beating expectations as the watchmaker responds to the arrival of Apple Inc.’s smartwatch.
The so-called e-strap will go on sale in Hong Kong in mid-October and by the end of the month in mainland China, the company’s largest export market, Lambert said in an interview at a watch fair in Hong Kong. The device, which costs $300 and now is only sold with new Montblanc watches, will be available as a separate accessory before the end of the year. Lambert declined to provide sales figures for the product, which hit the European market in August and goes on sale in the U.S. on Nov. 9.
Montblanc is one of the first luxury Swiss watchmakers to incorporate digital functions in response to this year’s introduction of the Apple Watch. The idea is that while the watchband may become obsolete, the timepiece won’t. The device allows wearers to read e-mails, track physical activity, and help take better selfies.
To avoid cannibalizing its market for luxury mechanical watches, Montblanc developed the product as an accessory that accompanies the brand’s TimeWalker watches, which cost $3,700 to $5,800.
“It has all the advantages of the iwatch without being in the watch,” said Lambert.
Will the Apple Watch upend the Swiss watchmaking industry? Only time will tell, Lambert said.
“It is still too early to say how disruptive it will be,” he said. “In the phone industry the lifetime of a product is 18 months, in watchmaking it is 180 years.”
The Montblanc brand is owned by Cie. Financiere Richemont SA, whose other brands include Vacherson Constantin, Piaget and IWC. Richemont shares rose 2.3 percent to 75.40 francs as of 3:23 p.m. in Zurich.