September 15, 2015 Last Updated 8:37 am

451 Research surveys Apple Watch owners, finds device a threat to traditional watches

Company says Apple’s smartwatch is off to a good start, with high customer satisfaction, though only 55 percent would be ‘likely’ to recommend the watch to others

The firm 451 Research has just released a survey of Apple Watch owners, attempting to measure their overall customer satisfaction, asking their likes and dislikes of the product, etc.

As TNM readers know, I love research because it puts real numbers out there for consideration, rather than just more tech opinion.

MLB-AW-screenI am not a fan of the Apple Watch simply because I long ago stopped wearing a watch, thanks to cell phones. Even before the launch of the iPhone so-called dumb phones at least gave you the time, so why wear a watch? The answer, of course, is fashion.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the appeal of smartwatches, in general. If you are a watch wearer, wearing a smartwatch may make sense to you, assuming it is attractive, as well as functional. That is why I very much agree with 451 Research that the Apple Watch (and other smartwatches) that traditional watch companies should feel threatened.

But while the authors of the survey seem to feel that the Apple Watch is enjoying very good customer satisfaction, I tend to disagree. Comparing the CS results to those of the iPhone you can see that customers are not as thrilled with the new product as they have been their phones. I think there is room for a different conclusion to their results. For instance, they say 87 percent were very positive about their Apple Watch. But you could also look at the fact that only 55 percent would be very likely to recommend the watch to others as troubling. The device is not cheap, yet only slightly more than half were likely to recommend it.

One reason for this, though, may be that some of those who have bought the Apple Watch were not wearers of traditional watches before buying the Apple Watch, and so may not like the experience of strapping on a device to their wrist every day. Those who have worn a watch for years don’t give a seconds thought to putting on their watch, but those who were not wearing a watch before buying the Apple Watch see it as a special activity that requires a strong justification to continue the habit.

Here is the release for the survey:

NEW YORK, NY – September 15, 2015 – A just-released consumer survey from 451 Research finds a strong, positive reaction to the Apple Watch among owners.

“Our latest survey shows the Apple Watch is off to a great start, with high marks in satisfaction and a strong likelihood of recommending it to others,” said Andy Golub, Survey Research Director for 451 Research. “The wide range of features on the device and its frequent usage among owners pose a clear threat to health and fitness monitors and traditional watches.”

The July 27 – August 4 survey, conducted by 451 Research’s ChangeWave service, focused on overall satisfaction, key likes and dislikes, and the impact Apple Watch is having on other markets. A total of 145 Apple Watch owners participated.

Customer Satisfaction

Overall satisfaction ratings (87%) are very positive for the Apple Watch – with more than half (54%) of owners saying they’re Very Satisfied and 33% Somewhat Satisfied with their new device.


In terms of expectations, 28% of Apple Watch owners say their new smart watch Exceeds expectations and 51% say it Meets expectations.

When Apple Watch owners were asked whether they’d recommend their new device to a friend or colleague, a robust 83% say they’re Very (55%) or Somewhat Likely (28%) to do so.

Key Likes and Dislikes

We asked Apple Watch owners what they like best and dislike most about their device.

Top Likes. Notifications (49%) is the number one thing Apple Watch owners like best about their device, followed by Health and Fitness Monitoring (41%). Aesthetics/Design (30%) was also a popular choice.


Top Dislikes. A total of 37% of owners say the Battery Life is Too Short, and 31% dislike its Reliance on the iPhone. Other dislikes include Lack of Waterproofing (25%), Selection of Apps (17%) and Learning Curve (17%).


Health and Fitness Monitors and Traditional Watches Most Vulnerable

Nearly half of all Apple Watch owners (46%) say they had previously planned on buying a health and fitness monitor but have put that purchase on hold or canceled it altogether now that they have an Apple Watch.


Another 16% say they’ve put on hold or canceled a traditional watch purchase. We took a closer look at how the Apple Watch is impacting the traditional watch market.

A Clear Threat to Traditional Watches. A striking 85% of Apple Watch owners say they wear their device on a daily basis, and another 11% several times a week.

Before purchasing the Apple Watch, more than two-thirds (69%) say they wore a traditional watch daily (61%) or several times a week (8%). But since buying their Apple Watch, an overwhelming majority of owners who also have a traditional watch say the Apple Watch has replaced it (82%) – a clear sign of the negative impact it is having on the traditional watch market.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Apple Watch owners were asked how often they use various features and functionalities on their smart watch. Four-in-five (79%) say they use their Apple Watch for Health and Fitness Monitoring on a daily basis. Another 63% say they Send and Receive Text Messages, while 52% Check the Weather daily.
  • The survey found Lag Time When Scrolling or Refreshing (29%) is the top problem experienced by owners.

Issues with the Sensor (19%) – the focus of several media reports in the aftermath of the Apple Watch release – ranks second. But when we asked Apple Watch owners about the extent of the sensor problem, just 4% characterize it as a Very Big Problem and 8% say it’s Somewhat of a Problem.

  • Fashion or Tech? A total of 61% consider their Apple Watch to be a Technology Device, but just 1% think it’s a Fashion Accessory. At the same time, better than a third (36%) say Equally as Both.

451 Research will publish an updated look at the smart watch market in October 2015 when its ChangeWave service fields the next quarterly wearable trends survey.

To request more information from 451 Research on the latest ChangeWave survey results, follow this link.

Methodology: The findings are based upon a July 27 – August 4, 2015 consumer survey of Apple Watch owners, and a total of 145 respondents from 451 Research’s ChangeWave survey network participated. 451 leverages its ChangeWave network of 25,000 business and technology professionals – as well as early-adopter consumers – to provide a forward-looking view of technologies, companies and the macro economy well in advance of other sources.

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