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Apple Is Officially Taking Over the Watch Business

Grace Donnelly

Apple is taking over the watch industry.

The company sold more watches last quarter than Rolex, Omega, and Swatch combined.

“The cellular version of the Apple Watch was in strong demand in the U.S., Japan, and Australia, where all major operators stocked it in time for the holiday season,” said Vincent Thielke, an analyst at industry researcher Canalys.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, Apple’s six million shipments represented nearly half of all smartwatch sales.

Apple sold eight million Apple Watches in the final quarter of 2017, the most since the product was introduced and the highest number of shipments in a single quarter for any wearable vendor, according to new estimates from Canalys and IDC.

That figure is also more than the companies in the Swiss watch industry’s combined sales, according to shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

“It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch with over 50% growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

Total Apple Watch sales for 2017 topped 18 million—up by more than 50% compared to the year before.

Though Apple has been making watches since 2015, the sales figures for the product have been bundled with other wearables, causing some early on to deem the product a flop.

But these new estimates show that the tech company is competing with watchmakers that have been honing the craft for generations.

At Apple’s shareholder meeting on Feb. 13, Cook said revenue from the wearables alone is approaching that of a Fortune 400 company. This means Apple’s wearables business is nearly the size of a company like Jetblue, with at least $6.7 billion in annual sales.

Features like fitness tracking and the ease of taking phone calls from your wrist may continue to give the Apple Watch an edge over traditional timepieces in the long run, especially as new capabilities are added. Apple Watches could soon give an EKG reading or control your washer and dryer along with other smart appliances.

“Apple has won the wearables game,” said Jason Low, senior analyst at Canalys. “ Its recent updates to the Series 3, such as GymKit and Apple Heart Study, are proving to offer compelling use cases, encouraging users to spend more on accessories.”