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For some people, the ‘true luxury’ is time, says Swiss maker

Not your Apple Watch. The Swiss Alp Watch Zzzz

When wealthy individuals started snapping up a limited run of a high-end luxury watched that looks like an Apple Watch, yet has none of the high-tech features, the Swiss watchmaker responsible said it was simply about time.

The nearly 200-year Switzerland-based company, H. Moser & Cie, announced its $26,900 timepiece — The Swiss Alp Watch Zzzz — via a press release last week. The rectangular case and glossy black dial — sans label — of the Zzzz could be “mistaken for a smartwatch on standby,” the company said. Among those it resembles is Apple’s AAPL, -0.23%  own Watch.

But the Zzzz has one function only: it tells the time.

“In response to the cold electronics of connected watches, H. Moser & Cie. presents the soul of mechanical watchmaking. With a minimum power reserve of 4 days, fully rechargeable by hand, it couldn’t be further from the world of the smartwatch,” said the company.

At the high end of Apple’s own smartwatch offerings is a $1,499 Hermès inspired watchwith a barenia leather, double-cuff band. Meanwhile, the Swiss Alp Watch Zzzz sports a solid 18 carat white-gold diamond case, with a sapphire crystal. The back is see-through, so that you can take a peek at the fine Swiss watch detailing. If a glossy black dial isn’t your thing, you can also pick the Funky Blue dial, “an example of watchmaking yin and yang,” said the company.

Choice of straps for the Swiss piece are “hand-stitched black alligator or beige kudu leather,” which come with an 18-carat “solid white gold pin buckle engraved with the Moser logo.”

So exclusive is this high-end anti-smartwatch that it is limited to a run of just 20. And too bad if you’re moved to part with thousands for a watch that will only give you the time of day, as they’re 90% sold out, H. Moser’s public relations manager Nathalie Cobos, told MarketWatch in a telephone interview on Monday.

She added that the cool blue version, nicknamed the “Brrrr,” was especially popular among clients who snapped up the watch.

As Cobos explained, the watch was pre-presented in Basel in March at a trade show, and many were preordered subsequently. Of that 90%, she said Asian clients scooped up 50%, Europe 25% and then the Middle East another 25%. U.S. clients, she said, weren’t so responsive.

But why would anyone want to pay nearly $27,000 for a watch that does nothing but tell time?

“It’s more than a watch, it is a statement,” says Cobos, adding that the Zzzz taps into the current debate about being too connected trough wearable devices.

“Lots of our customers, they have already a smartwatch and they use it for other purposes and they’d love to have a mechanical, traditional watch,” she says. “I think there are a lot of people who say the true luxury is time.”

And a watch that just does what they were set out to do gives individuals “more time for them. To get back their own values and get more focused on themselves and their family and the ones they love, instead of always being connected,” she said.

Cobos says one of the biggest selling points of the Zzzz is its lack of a logo. They trialed a no-logo concept with another watch collection, though they were discouraged to try to sell a pricey watch without a label. However, demand for the logo-less watch soared, and they realized they were onto something. Besides, she said, those who love the company’s watches can tell the make without a logo.

“Traditionally speaking, when branding wasn’t so important, when watchmakers first produced, they signed their name on the back of the watch,” which she says they’re now returning to. As for smartwatches? It’s not going to happen, she says — “We don’t know how to do that.”

The real apple watch

Meanwhile back in Cupertino: Apple’s own watches, along with headphones and other accessories, brought in $2.87 billion in the most recent quarter, handily beating analysts expectations, even as its iPhone unit sales disappointed.

A survey from earlier this year by International Data Corp. showed the craze for wearables has been steadily rising, and the craze is far from dead. However, Fossil Group FOSL, +0.83%  , best known for fashion watches with a retro design, has found the push into wearables isn’t so easy.

Richemont CFR, -0.57%  , owner of the Cartier brand, also posted an underwhelming recent quarter for watch sales and Swatch, best known for its non-pricey plastic watches, but also the owner of luxury brands, such as Omega, Blancpain and Breguet, said 2016 was just “not a winning year.” Last year, of course, marked a tough year for Swiss watchmakers amid a decline in Chinese tourists and terrorism worries. Some say, the turnaround has now begun.

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