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Apple Watch Had Record Year With Estimated 18M Shipments in 2017, Topped Entire Swiss Watch Industry Last Quarter

Not only did the Apple Watch just have its best quarter ever in terms of sales, but it also had a record-breaking year overall, capped off by topping shipments from the entire Swiss watch industry combined last quarter.


Apple Watch shipments topped an all-time high of 18 million units in 2017, according to estimated data from research firm Canalys, an over 50 percent increase compared to the roughly 12 million units Apple shipped in 2016.

Canalys claims that 48 percent of the shipments were the latest Apple Watch Series 3 models, while 52 percent were Series 2 or older models. Among the Series 3 models, around 13 percent of customers opted for an LTE-enabled model, while 35 percent of people were satisfied with the Wi-Fi and GPS version.

The keyword is estimated, since Apple doesn't actually reveal Apple Watch sales on a standalone basis. Instead, the device is grouped under Apple's expanding "Other Products" category, alongside the Apple TV, Apple Watch, accessories like AirPods and Beats, and as of next quarter, the HomePod.

Apple analysts, who closely examine the "Other Products" revenue and other clues to estimate Apple Watch sales, each have similar totals. Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies estimates Apple Watch shipments totaled 17.4 million last year, while Horace Dediu of Asymco comes in at 17.7 million.


On an earnings call last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Apple Watch had its best quarter ever during the final three months of 2017, with over 50 percent growth in revenue and units sold for the fourth quarter in a row, and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment that Apple tracks.

Cook added that sales of Apple Watch Series 3 models were also more than twice as high as Series 2 models in the year-ago quarter.

Interestingly, it appears that this growth has resulted in Apple Watch shipments coming in higher than all Swiss watch brands combined for the first time last quarter, according to IDC research director Francisco Jeronimo.‏ In other words, Apple is now the biggest watchmaker in the world.


The key takeaway here is that the Apple Watch continues to grow at an impressive rate as the device approaches its third anniversary in April. Apple Watch also remains the world's most popular smartwatch by a significant margin, and is now even giving the iconic Swiss watch industry a run for its money.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 4, watchOS 5
Tag: Canalys
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)


Top Rated Comments

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7 months ago
This can’t be accurate. It would mean all the MR posters who said that this product was terrible, useless, and failing to sell for the past three years would have been wrong. Inconceivable!
Rating: 29 Votes
7 months ago
Zero competition. It's pretty crazy to think about. When it comes to the iPad and the Apple Watch, there is nothing better. The iPhone at least has some competition, but it's still not even close.
Rating: 15 Votes
7 months ago
I can believe it.

Love my Series 3 with LTE, and have been seeing a lot more AW in the wild this past year than previously.
Rating: 14 Votes
7 months ago
Excellent product Apple Watch S3. Done an outstanding job for my needs and the health aspect literally life saving. Thumbs up Apple!
Rating: 13 Votes
7 months ago
And there are still people out there who call this a flop.
Rating: 12 Votes
7 months ago
Apple Watch has gone from a half-baked product at launch to a mature and smooth-running device that is more and more useful. Series 3 finally convinced me to buy.

One thing though: I don't think it's fair to compare sales of Apple Watch and Swiss watches. Sure, they both tell time. Otherwise, they are different product categories. Apple Watches can do hundreds of things and there are AW models available that are pretty affordable ($179 sale price for Series 1). Swiss watches do 1 or 2 things, are handmade by artisans, and are more a piece of fine jewelry. I think both products are terrific, for different needs.
Rating: 11 Votes
7 months ago
Makes sense. I’ve seen a lot of Apple Watches in the wild over the last year or so. It’s particularly popular with nurses, wait staff, and others who can’t look at their phones during the day.

In contrast, I see few Android watches.

Once again, most people underestimated Apple. The first gen watch certainly had some shortcomings, but what people forget is Apple goes all-in on their products and they keep improving until they get it right.
Rating: 10 Votes
7 months ago
I never though I would have any interest in this until my wife got me a Series 3. I cannot imagine ever getting along without it.
Rating: 9 Votes
7 months ago
And MacRumors members were 100% certain the Apple Watch would be a failure.
Rating: 8 Votes
7 months ago
I think the Series 3 AW is the iPhone 4 of the Watch line. It's the tipping point, where tech and functionality combine to make the product genuinely useful and attractive.

I think it's interesting that ~27% of Series 3 sales are LTE models. I'm not sure what I expected, but I'd say that's a pretty good rate for a first time feature that has a minimum $120/year charge in the U.S. (And yes, I know many S3 LTE owners haven't hooked theirs up yet - out of four S3 AWs in my family, only one has been connected to LTE so far.)
Rating: 8 Votes

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