• Apple sold nearly 10 million more watches in 2019 than the entire Swiss watch industry, analysts estimate.
  • A report by UK management consulting firm Strategy Analytics estimated that the US tech giant shipped 31 million watches last year.
  • That compares with the estimated 21.1 million shipped by the Swiss watch industry.
  • One factor that might explain the finding is a preference among younger consumers for smartwatches instead of traditional Swiss timepieces from the likes of Tag Heuer, Swatch, and Tissot.
  • With its numerous health-related features, the Apple Watch has helped blur the lines between traditional wristwatches and health-specific wristwear such as Fitbits.
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Apple sold nearly 10 million more watches in 2019 than the entire Swiss watch industry, analysts estimate.

According to a report by UK consulting firm Strategy Analytics, the US tech giant shipped an estimated 30.7 million watches last year, compared with an estimated 21.1 million shipped by the Swiss watch industry.

This represented growth of 36% from 2018, when Apple shipped 22.5 million units. Shipments of Swiss watches fell 13%, down from 24.2 units million in 2018, Strategy Analytics estimated.

The world-renowned Swiss watch sector encompasses luxury brands such as Tag Heuer, Swatch, and Tissot.

The report attributes the gap in sales, presumed to be similar to the gap in shipments, to numerous factors — chief among them the appeal of smartwatches to today's tech-savvy customers.

"A blend of attractive design, user-friendly tech, and sticky apps makes the Apple Watch wildly popular in North America, Western Europe, and Asia," Steven Waltzer, a senior analyst at the firm, said.

Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics' executive director, added: "Analog wristwatches remain popular among older consumers, but younger buyers are tipping toward smartwatches and computerized wristwear."

Apple Watch
In many ways, the Apple Watch is a health-tracking device with a watch attached.
Kif Leswing

In recent months, Apple has appeared to focus its attention away from the iPhone and onto other smart devices such as its Apple Watch, as it looks to formulate its strategy for the next decade.

What's interesting about Strategy Analytics' findings is that they support — or at least don't undermine — the idea that today's watches should be more than mere timepieces.

The lines seem to be blurring between wristwatches and health-specific wristwear such as Fitbits.

It's a view Apple's CEO Tim Cook has long taken: Judging by his prior comments, Cook views the Apple Watch as an integral part of Apple's efforts in the healthcare space.

In a January 2019 interview with CNBC, during a discussion about the Apple Watch's irregular heart rhythms notifications feature, he said: "If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, 'What was Apple's greatest contribution to mankind?' it will be about health."

"We're taking what has been with the institutions and empowering the individual to manage their health," he said.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.