Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has never formally disclosed Apple Watch unit volumes, believing that data is too competitively sensitive to share with investors. CEO Tim Cook bragged in 2017 that the smartwatch had become the top-selling watch in the entire world, a little over two years after Apple's first wearable gadget shipped. Wearables have become a $20.8 billion business for Apple, based on Cook's recent disclosure that the segment is now the size of a Fortune 150 company.

Here's the latest estimate on how many Apple Watches the company sold last year.

Apple Watch Series 5 in titanium

Apple Watch Series 5. Image source: Apple.

Overtaking an entire industry

Last week, Strategy Analytics estimated that Apple Watch unit volumes jumped 36% to 30.7 million, which was enough for Apple to overtake the entire Swiss watch industry. High-end luxury watches have long been a pride of Switzerland, led by household-name brands like Rolex, Swatch, and TAG Heuer. The Swiss watch industry saw units decline by 13% to 21.1 million, according to the report.

 

2018

2019

Apple Watch

22.5 million

30.7 million

Swiss watch industry

24.2 million

21.1 million

Data source: Strategy Analytics.

"A blend of attractive design, user-friendly tech and sticky apps makes the Apple Watch wildly popular in North America, Western Europe and Asia," Strategy Analytics analyst Steven Waltzer said in a statement.

The market researcher notes that there is an ongoing shift in consumer preferences based on demographics. Strategy Analytics director Neil Mawston added, "Analog wristwatches remain popular among older consumers, but younger buyers are tipping toward smartwatches and computerized wristwear."

Swiss watchmakers have attempted to expand into smartwatches, but those efforts have been largely unsuccessful thus far. TAG Heuer sells Wear OS devices, for example, but Alphabet's smartwatch platform has been limping along for years. Swatch is undertaking the daunting task of developing its own proprietary operating system, aptly named Swiss OS, but that initiative is far behind schedule.

Apple Watch is two-thirds of the wearables business

Separately, IDC recently estimated Apple Watch's average selling price (ASP) is $448. If that estimate is accurate, and assuming ASPs don't fluctuate too much, that would imply that Apple Watch generated around $13.8 billion in revenue in 2019, or two-thirds of the tech giant's total wearables revenue. The rest of Apple's wearables business consists of ear-worn wearables (hearables), including the AirPods lineup, as well as certain wireless Beats products.

However, management noted on the last earnings call  that Apple Watch Series 3 was facing supply constraints due to strong demand. The company kept the 2-year-old smartwatch on sale but reduced the price to $199 in the fall after releasing Series 5, which could potentially put some downward pressure on ASPs.

Still, selling more units than the entire Swiss watch industry is quite an achievement.