$17K Apple Watch is ‘missing integrity and substance,’ asserts maker of $13K phones

max pogliani vertu apple watch interview
“We need to ask ourselves what luxury is. It’s not only about the price tag. But that’s the main thing about the Apple Watch Edition.”

That’s what Max Pogliani, CEO of Vertu, told us when we casually asked him about the gold Apple Watch. Vertu is a British company that has mastered the art of making luxury smartphones. The company is the definition of luxury tech, and in his eyes, the Apple Watch Edition isn’t a player. It’s built around its big price tag, but lacks the luxury credibility to back it up.

“For me, [the Apple Watch is] missing integrity and substance.”

But either way, the Apple Watch may help his company out. The Watch Edition has prompted conversations about costly mobile devices, instead of rehashing the tired lines that luxury tech is “about expensive things for stupid people with more money than sense.”

While he admires Apple and its achievements, he believes Vertu is on a whole different level.

“We don’t consider our smartphones competing with an iPhone,” he said. “I don’t think Vertu should compete with Apple in the Watch category either.”

The Watch Edition is missing vital luxury characteristics

Why isn’t the Apple Watch Edition a luxury product to Vertu? The only major difference between a $350 Apple Watch and a $17,000 gold Watch Edition is the material used to make the casing. This is the what increases the price. “While it’s true Apple is entering what we define as the luxury space, the material change is only part of the luxury process,” Pogliani said.

The alteration of material used for production, and the effect that has on the price tag, is the only parallel between what Apple is doing with the Watch Edition, and Vertu’s smartphones. “This is where it ends,” he stated.

So what’s missing? Pogliani was very clear, “For me it’s missing integrity and substance.” He broke down Vertu’s recipe for luxury success into three elements: style, technological parity, and bespoke services. “We mix these three together in the best possible way we can. It’s a richer offering, and what people expect luxury to be.”

“It’s about differences that only people in the know, know.” He used the hand polished titanium side panels of Vertu’s Aster phone as an example. The effect cannot be replicated by a machine, but it’s something only a connoisseur would be aware of, and who would understand the hours of craftsmanship that went into it.

7JZ2H_vertu_aster_lifestyle_22
Vertu Aster

The Apple Watch Edition doesn’t come with additional features over its cheaper sister models, and crucially doesn’t have unique aspects that are only possible when something is made by hand. The Watch Edition may walk the walk, but it doesn’t talk the talk, especially upon close examination.

Does this mean Vertu’s not interested in wearables?

The Apple Watch Edition is not Vertu’s idea of a true luxury product, and a smartwatch also isn’t in the company’s plan. Vertu’s not dismissing wearables though. “Watch this space,” Pogliani intriguingly told me. However, he has no intention of rushing in without having come up with the right product.

“I don’t think the answer for us would be a simple luxury smartwatch. Wearables are different and can be way more than just a watch, which makes it a much more interesting space to look at.” Pogliani agreed that Vertu’s high-end luxury talents fit in with wearables, given that personal touch is so important to both.

Vertu has already dabbled in providing high quality accessories to its customers, such as its V Headphones and V Speaker audio products. If, or when, it has a go at wearables, the resulting product is likely to be equally closely connected with what the brand does best.

Pogliani told me a story about a passionate Vertu owner, someone who took ownership seriously, to the point where they had visited the headquarters to met the person who had hand made their phone. She sees her Vertu smartphone very differently to a normal smartphone. The latter, she said, was about rushing through life, not having time to stop, and always being on the go.

The Vertu, however, is about consideration, thought, and standing back to deliberate what course of action to take. That, Pogliani said, is the real essence of luxury. The iPhone, and consequently the Apple Watch, are unrefined, noisy, attention seekers. A Vertu wearable would be quite the opposite, he implied. General excitement and interest over the Watch Edition isn’t pushing Vertu into doing anything rash.

Fittingly, given Pogliani’s tale, deep consideration is how Vertu appears to be approaching the future, flashy Watch Editions or otherwise.

Other great DT articles to read:

Editors' Recommendations

Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.
Smart Home

The Apple HomePod gets a whole lot cheaper today at Target

Apple's HomePod hasn't been the most popular smart speaker on the market but for users who are all in on Apple's heavily policed ecosystem of devices, this smart speaker is on serious sale at Target this week.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for December 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Mobile

Galaxy Watch vs. Apple Watch Series 4: Which one is the smartest?

The Samsung Galaxy Watch and the Apple Watch Series 4 are two of the best smartwatches available today. But which is better? We put the two watches head-to-head to find out which you should buy.
Product Review

Montblanc Summit 2 offers smart functionality but still looks good with a suit

Montblanc’s Summit 2 is the first smartwatch to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor. It’s feature packed, with GPS, NFC for Google Pay, and a heart rate sensor, but it also has the classic timepiece look.
Outdoors

Built to take a beating and still perform, these are the best hiking watches

A proper hiking watch should track exercise metrics and act as a navigational co-pilot during any kind of hike. Ideally, it'll even have a built-in GPS system and sensors. Here are five of the best hiking watches.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 now available on the Apple Store

The Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 is now available on the Apple Store for $150. The sensor strip, which is only 2 millimeters thin, automatically tracks a wide array of sleep data when placed under the user's sheets.
Outdoors

Conquer the cold season with the best heated clothing and outdoor apparel

If you're thinking about going outside this winter, heated apparel is a must. Luckily, we've rounded up some of the best heated clothing, whether you're looking for battery-powered gloves or heated insoles.
Outdoors

Crush your next workout with the best Fitbit for every activity

Fitbits are amazingly helpful tools for setting fitness goals and tracking progress. However, different activities require different metrics. We've gathered a list of the best Fitbits for running, swimming, biking, and other activities.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.
Mobile

Google Fit app finally gets a widget, among other new features

Google Fit hasn't received any new features since its redesign. This week, the company is rolling some new tools; users will be able to add a widget to their Android home screen, adjust the intensity of their workouts, and more.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Mobile

New Apple Watch begins saving lives one week after getting EKG feature

The Apple Watch Series 4 was updated almost a week ago with a new feature that allows users to take electrocardiogram tests -- and already it seems like the new feature is saving lives.