The Apple Watch was a significant factor in the drop of Swiss watch exports during the month of August, which could be leading into the industry's first annual decline in six years.
The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported on Tuesday that August shipments fell 1.6 percent to 1.47 billion Swiss francs, or $1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. Exports of watches under 200 francs ($205) were down 13 percent, while watches between 200 and 500 francs ($205 to $514) were hard hit, sliding 24 percent.
Overall Swiss watch exports did poorly the first eight months of the year, declining 1.2 percent.
While the industry's poor performance has also been blamed on a rising franc, and factors in China -- including economic trouble and a government campaign against high spending -- the Apple Watch is believed to be drawing the attention of people who would otherwise consider a low- to mid-range conventional watch. Indeed Swiss brands operating in the same price range, such as Movado and Mondaine, are now increasingly selling or developing smartwatches.
Apple appears to have had little or no impact on the Swiss export market for watches over 3,000 francs ($3,081), which rose 1.7 percent last month. While most Apple Watches sit between $349 and $1,099, the next jump is to gold Edition models, which start at $10,000.
The company yesterday released watchOS 2, addressing early complaints like the absence of native third-party apps, while adding features like Time Travel and Nightstand modes.