Who’s afraid of Apple? Not Swiss watchmakers…

Phil Han, Special to CNBC.com
Are Swiss watchmakers afraid of Apple?
Are Swiss watchmakers afraid of Apple?

The Apple Watch may not be hitting stores until April, but many of the world's leading watchmakers haven't been shy in sharing their opinions on the hotly anticipated device.

At the watch industry's leading trade show, BaselWorld in Switzerland, many companies were debating whether to head high-tech or stick with a centuries-old formula of watchmaking.

The president of LVMH's watch division and CEO of Tag Heuer, Jean-Claude Biver, told CNBC that the Apple Watch, which will cost up to $10,000, cannot be compared to similarly priced Swiss timepieces.

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"Can it repaired in 1,000 years or can it be repaired in 80 years?" Biver asked. "Can your children wear the watch? No -- because it won't work anymore! The technology will be gone."

Biver also went on to argue that in the upper end of the watch market, tradition would beat evolving technologies that could be obsolete in a matter of decades.

Watchmaker Longines also said that it was not involved in developing a smartwatch.

"We respect the brands that have the courage to go in this field, (but) Longines will not go in this field. We will stay with our traditional analogue watches," President Walter von Kanel told CNBC.

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"A watch is not only giving time, it's a status symbol and I don't think you'll get a status symbol in an Apple Watch with two billion functions that no one understands."

Embrace the technology?

There was, however, one Swiss company that has welcomed smartwatch technology.

Mondaine's Helvetica smartwatch

Mondaine is the first Swiss watchmaker to unveil its own smartwatch. The digital and analogue face watch will be capable of tracking users' steps and how much sleep they have had.

The company said the battery would last two years and the watch would connect to both iOs and Android phones.

"I think there are many young people that never wear a watch and i think they will become first time wearable people," the company's co-founder, Ronnie Bernheim, told CNBC.

"I think the whole market is expanding I think it is something positive."

Swiss franc weighs

Added competition from the Apple Watch comes at a difficult time for the Swiss watch industry, which has been hit hard by a strengthening Swiss franc after the country's national bank unpegged the currency from the euro.

When the Swiss National Bank announced the shock move in January, the boss of watchmaker Swatch slammed it as a "disaster." A stronger franc makes Swiss exports more expensive on the global market.

Read MoreSwiss franc strengthens after SNB keeps rates on hold

On Thursday, Citi reported that Swiss watch exports continued to fall in February, down 2 percent year-on-year in February.

- CNBC's Katrina Bishop contributed to this report.