If you’re the CEO of a watch company, you likely watched the announcement of the Apple Watch with a mixture of optimism and fear. Optimism because Apple just made watches cool again in a market where many people haven’t worn one for years. Fear because most of those who now have a renewed interest in watches aren’t going to buy yours.

Guess Watches CEO Cindy Livingston put a brave face on it with a letter welcoming Tim Cook to the watch industry (full version below) as she announced the company plans to make a smartwatch of its own … 

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Livingston talks about the changes the watch industry has already gone through over the decades – “the introduction of quartz movements, the rise and fall of calculator watches, digitals, analogue-digitals and many many brands, both big and small” – and said that the company was looking forward to “the launch of our own connected timepiece for GUESS… Powered by MARTIAN.”

Martian launched its own smartwatch, the Passport, at CES back in January – check out our review here.

Her claim that “we’re happy to have another true brand innovator in our industry” has that clenched-teeth feel to it, but given that iPhone owners are unlikely to buy what will presumably be an Android-powered device, it’s a clever way to let Android users know there’s another option on the way.

Apple has not yet given a launch date for its watch, stating only that it will go on sale “in early 2015.” The Apple Watch will be sold in three models – the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport and the Apple Watch Edition – with prices starting at $349 and likely to go well into four figures.

The full text of Livingston’s letter to Cook can be seen below.

LETTER TO CEO OF APPLE, FROM CEO OF GUESS WATCHES

Dear Mr. Cook:

I wanted to write to you and welcome you to the Watch Industry and also offer my personal thanks to you.

As one of the largest fashion watch brands in the world, we have been around for more than 30 years. In the early 80’s, there was really only SWATCH (the brand) and GUESS Watches. At that time, we had many critics who thought we were crazy. No one thought that anyone would want this new type of “novelty” timepiece. They believed that the only “real” alternatives were Swiss mechanicals or traditional quartz timepieces. Fortunately for us, consumers thought differently!

We are part of an old and proud industry. Every year we’ve experienced change in some way. Over these years, we have seen the introduction of quartz movements, the rise and fall of calculator watches, digitals, analogue-digitals and many many brands, both big and small. It seems that the test of time has shown that the wrist is an obvious place for both function and fashion.

Fast-forward to today and the world has changed. The proliferation of smartphones and the demand of consumers for round-the-clock connectivity have changed the way people access time. This has caused an understandable fear and challenge in our industry (even if no one likes to admit it).

We personally welcome this new challenge to remain relevant to our young, sexy and adventurous consumers who see as much importance in the device they carry and the messaging app they use, as the clothing and accessory brands they buy.

Over the past year, there has been dramatic speculation of the future of “wearables” and Apple’s entre into this segment. This week, you delivered! Just as we had in the early 80’s, there are naysayers and believers. I, for one, am a fan! Your innovation and attention to detail is spectacular.

In today’s connected world, consumers deserve the next level of combining fashion and function. We’ve always been much more than a watch. Now, we too are going to take that concept even further. As we look forward to the launch of our own connected timepiece for GUESS… “Powered by MARTIAN”, we’re happy to have another true brand innovator in our industry that confirms the wrist as the dominant place for self-expression.

Congratulations.

Cindy Livingston President & CEO GUESS WATCHES

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