Other brands contributing to the growth were Samsung, Fitbit and Huawei, the analyst firm Counterpoint Research said.
The company did not provide overall figures but said Apple accounted for 35.8% of the total shipments, marginally above the 35.5% it accounted for in the previous year.
Samsung took 11.1 (7.2% in 2018), while Fitbit garnered 5.5% (3.7% in 2018), and Huawei 2.8% (practically nothing in 2018).
"Apple continues to focus on the health-related features like ECG and fall detection in the Apple Watch Series 4. The ECG capability in the Apple Watch is the most desirable feature, according to our latest Consumer Lens survey.
Global smartwatch shipments market share by brand in Q1 2018 vs Q1 2019.
"Apple has now received approval on its ECG features from healthcare authorities of Hong Kong and 19 countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.”
Sinha said the heart rate sensor for health monitoring, GPS and pedometer sensors for fitness, and NFC embedded for payment were some of the key integrated technologies.
"Related use-cases in addition to notifications with cellular capability are driving the smartwatch adoption. However, limited battery life remains a pain point for consumers' decision-making process, irrespective of region and price band.”
Regarding the performance of other vendors’ performance, Counterpoint senior analyst Sujeong Lim noted, “Samsung grew exponentially at 127% year-on-year as the South Korean brand’s market share jumped to 11% in Q1 2019. Its success was due to the latest Galaxy watch series which came with better battery life as well as a very traditional round clockface design.
"Further, it provides cellular LTE connectivity which gives it an edge over others [as it is] targeting Android-based smartphone users. It is a great alternative to the Apple Watch for Android and Samsung’s huge installed base of users.”
Counterpoint said Huawei’s market share had jumped to 3% in Q1 2019 due to good traction for its latest Huawei Watch GT.
"The striking design, affordability, leveraging the growing ‘Huawei’ brand mindshare, and the smartphone user base is driving demand," it said. "Further, Huawei has shifted focus to sell more Huawei branded smartwatches whereas the smart bands are selling well under its HONOR brand."
Commenting on innovation across the smart wearables segment, Counterpoint associate director Brady Wang said: “Foldable displays are coming to smartwatches. Nubia’s attempt to design 'smartphone + smartwatch' adds smartphone-level capability to the wrist form-factor.
"The UI of Nubia Alpha comes with features like gesture control, shortcuts with image capture, and moving through apps. This makes the smartwatch versatile and user-friendly.
"However, we are still in the nascent stages in the evolution of smartwatch form-factors. These new form-factors will need to excel on various metrics. They need to be less bulky, ruggedised but stylish, and also possess a less fragmented software/UI which at the same time is intuitive. We estimate flexible smartwatches will hit mainstream post-2025."