When Apple introduced a smart watch in 2015, the company struck a powerful blow to an already suffering industry.

The popularity of wristwatches had taken a hit when cell phones rose to power. “Smartphones Are Killing the Watch Industry,” proclaimed a New York Post headline in 2016. The Apple watch pushed old-school, analog watches even farther from the American consciousness.

But the analog watch industry — especially pricier ones in the $500plus category — is not dead yet, says Autumn Knight, manager of Arizona Watch & Jewelry Service in Tucson Mall.

“Watches are definitely making a comeback. They really are, especially the automatics,” Knight observes.

Market analysis firm Mordor Intelligence projects 3% annual growth in the watch industry for

the next five years, and Statista, another market research firm, offers an even more optimistic 7% annual growth among luxury brands through 2027, according to their recent reports.

Watches can be divided into scores of categories and subcategories.

There are smart watches and less-smart ones; dress and sport watches; digital and analog watches; mechanical and quartz watches; automatic and self-winding. There are dive watches, sailing watches, field watches and chronographs.

There is even a Moon watch — the Omega Speedmaster, the only watch approved by NASA for use in space. Neil Armstrong wore one when he took that giant leap for all of us in 1969.

Watch collector Mark Weiss, 57, sells cars for Lexus of Tucson.

The Southern California native’s fascination with watches started with his grandfather’s watch, which he got when he was in junior high school. He began seriously collecting watches about a decade ago and now has about 40.

“I’m not an investment-grade collector. I’m a collector because I love them. I love the art of watchmaking, and the history of watchmaking, as well. I buy the ones that I want. I have a couple (TAG Heuers) — a Formula 1 and a Carrera. I have a Baum & Mercier, and an Eterna. These are brands that have been around since the beginning of Swiss watchmaking,” Weiss says.

Weiss has a Mondaine watch, made by a company founded in 1951 that designed the clocks used in Swiss railroad stations.

“They make a watch styled after the Swiss railway clock. Mondaine isn’t a huge watchmaker, but that’s something I wanted in my collection. It’s different, it’s unique, but it doesn’t set you back thousands of dollars — maybe $350 or $400,” he explains.

Switzerland has been the epicenter of fine watchmaking for more than a century, though Japan emerged in the mid-20th century as a source of quality watches. Rolex, Omega, Longines, Tissot, Breitling, and Bulova watches are all made in Switzerland. Seiko, Grand Seiko, Citizen, and Casio watches are Japanese.

U.S. watchmakers include Timex, Fossil, and a few newcomers to the luxury category. Shinola, founded by a Fossil watch executive to revitalize Detroit, sells high-end watches with Swiss movements.

Even Timex, a brand that brought first pocket watches then wristwatches to the masses from Waterbury, Connecticut, now uses Swiss movements in its most expensive watches, which top out at about $500.

Though automatic watches — powered by a tiny weight inside that spins as your wrist moves — are a common feature of higher-end watches, quality quartz watches can be had for less than $500.

Seiko, the first company to make a quartz watch in 1969, and Citizen, another popular Japanese watchmaker, have widely available models under $500. Both offer automatic dress and sport watches for well under $1,000. Military/tactical watches also are popular lately, Knight notes.

Luminox, a U.S. manufacturer tasked with designing a watch for the Navy SEALs, makes durable dive watches with tritium inserts that offer a very bright luminescent dial starting around $400.

Brian Guillen, a disabled veteran and part-time manager at AutoZone, wears a military watch — Casio G-Shock — daily. He also has a Swiss Bulova Marine Star dive watch, an Invicta Automatic, and several other fashion brand watches.

Guillen and Weiss match their watches to their clothes. “When you wear a black outfit, you want a black watch,” Guillen says.

Both men have automatic and quartz watches in their collections. For the art, though, both prefer automatic ones, which generally cost more. Weiss recently bought a Samsung smart watch, but the relationship didn’t last long.

“I bought it, set it up, and I think I put it on once, then I don’t think I ever wore it again. I actually ended up giving it away. I just couldn’t get into the smart watch thing. I have my cell phone, and it does all those things. It just wasn’t a big enough deal to get my text messages on my wrist,” he comments.

Knight agrees. “I don’t want to be connected to my phone 24/7,” she says.

She adds, “The reasons that people like watches are numerous. Some like them because their parents did. Some for fashion. Others collect niche watches, such as pocket watches or certain brands. Knight says that some of their customers have more than 100 watches.

“We have customers who collect, say, only Seikos, and it’s just because they know that brand and they love it. Some people love Rolex or Omega or Patek Phillipe,” she continues, while others collect only antiques.

Weiss urges potential serious watch buyers to beware of online deals and to look for hallmarks of quality watches — sapphire crystal, Swiss or Japanese movements, surgical-grade stainless steel.

Also look for authorized dealers. For Rolex in Tucson, that’s Ben Bridge Jewelers in La Encantada, which also sells Patek Philippe, Cartier, TUDOR, Accutron, Breitling, and Grand Seiko. Jared, another luxury watch retailer on East Broadway and North Oracle, sells Bremont, TAG Heuer, Tissot, Longines, and Rado.

Ultimately what you buy is a personal choice. Weiss suggests following your heart. Buying watches as an investment is risky and can be time consuming — watching the market, tracking values of watches to be ready to sell for a profit. Weiss prefers to keep it simple.

“I buy the watches I want to own,” he concludes.