Good Question: How Many People Still Wear Watches?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Apple is placing a big bet on the idea that we’ll all be wearing our technology in the near future. But on its earnings call Tuesday, the company was mum when it came to how many Apple Watches it’s sold.

Gene Munster, a senior technology analyst with Piper Jaffray, estimates Apple sold 2.5 million Apple Watches, about half of the four to five million investors had hoped for.

So, with all of this new technology, how many of us wear wristwatches?

“Essentially what’s happening is your phone has taken over your watch,” said Munster.

We started taking off our watches when cellphones became the must-have accessory. On average, people look at their phone seven times an hour. For teenagers, that average jumps to 20.

“You usually pick up the time, whether you recognize that or not, when you use your phone,” Munster said.

According to research by Piper Jaffray senior analyst Erinn Murphy, 750 million watches were sold worldwide in 1991. That number fell to 440 million in 2014, which is a drop of 2 percent per year.

For teenagers, the drop was more precipitous. In 2005, 52 percent of teenagers wore a watch. By 2010, it was down to 25 percent.

“Now we’re starting to see a small shift back as things like fashion become more important,” Munster said. “A watch is a way to express yourself.”

A small group of people still give watches as gifts, and the high-end collector’s market has remained stable.

As for smartwatches, also known as wrist wearables, Piper Jaffray estimates they made up 6 percent of new watch purchases in 2014, but could rise to 31 percent by 2018.

“I think we’re going to become more watch-wearers, because I think the functionality that’s going to go on your wrist is going to increase,” Munster said. “The convenience of not having to fish your phone out of your pocket or get your wallet out, all of that standardized on your wrist will be a big selling point for the concept of watches.”

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