One in five Generation Zers struggle to tell the time with a conventional watch


Forget explaining the inner workings of a flying tourbillon or a coaxial escapement, the watch industry may have to explain what hours, minutes and seconds hand do.

A YouGov survey of 2,000 people in the UK has found that more than 20% of 18-to-24 year-olds struggle to understand a conventional watch with hands.

Only half say that they never struggle to tell the time from an analogue clock or watch.

Even the older Millennial generation says it cannot always cope. One in five 25-to-34 year-olds admit they have difficulty telling the time without a digital display.

The rise of smartphones and smart watches is being blamed for a generation of horologically innumerate citizens, but the news is not all bad for the traditional watch industry.

Apple sells more of its smartwatches than the entire Swiss watch industry combined, but far from triggering a collapse in sales of traditional watches similar to the quartz crisis of the 1970s, it appears that the tech giant is simply getting more people used to looking at their wrists to tell the time.

A report by NPD, How Watch Consumers Tick — from Smart to Luxury, found earlier this year that 55% of US adults wear a watch today, up from 44% in 2015. The four year period coincides almost precisely with the rise in Apple Watch and other smartwatch sales.

Moreover, the watch industry is getting smarter about marketing its products as heirlooms, fashion accessories, works of art, status symbols and investment assets.

Telling the time is well down the list.



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