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FILE - This Dec. 15, 2009 file photo shows people walking by a Swiss watch shop displaying watches along with U.S. golfer Tiger Woods' portrait in Tokyo. Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer says it's ended its 10-year commercial relationship with Tiger Woods and hopes he can "overcome his difficulties." (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
AP Photo/Koji Sasahara
Bad timing.
WATCH OUT

That didn’t take long: Smartwatches have overtaken Swiss watches in global shipments

By Alice Truong

Luxury watch makers that wrote off smartwatches as a threat are learning a crucial lessonNever underestimate Apple.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, global smartwatch shipments overtook Swiss watch shipments for the first time. Research firm Strategy Analytics reports that 8.1 million smartwatches were shipped compared with 7.9 million Swiss watches.

Of those smartwatches, Apple was the top producer, accounting for 63% of shipments, followed by Samsung at 16%. (Remember that the Apple Watch launched just last April.) Collectively, the two companies produced eight of every 10 smartwatches that shipped in the holiday quarter.

While smartwatches saw triple-digit growth (315.6% to be exact—illustrating just how nascent the industry is), Swiss watch shipments declined 4.8% year-over-year, according to Strategy Analytics. The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported even more dire numbers for January, with shipments falling 8%, due in part to China’s economic slowdown.