Updated from 10:03 a.m. EDT with further analysis in the 12th paragraph.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The iWatch is such a big deal that when Apple ( AAPL) goes on a hiring spree for it the world stops and takes notice. The Financial Times reported that Apple has been "aggressively" hiring for the smart watch in the past few weeks; the newspaper cited people close to the situation. Apple couldn't be immediately reached for comment. Not only is Apple looking at hiring outside talent for the project, the FT also reported that Apple may look at acquiring other smaller companies that would help with the production of the iWatch. Last month, Apple hired former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve to work on special projects, and report directly to CEO Tim Cook. Many industry watchers took this as a sign it could be iWatch-related, since Deneve has experience in selling high-end accessories and clothing. It's long been speculated that Apple would announce a wrist device to boost sales outside of the iPad and iPhone. Moving into other wearable technology is something new for Apple, which may be part of the reason Deneve was brought in and why the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant is looking at smaller acquisitions to help with the product.
A smart watch could go a long way toward changing the perception that Apple can no longer innovate. Apple is clearly bothered by this mentality, as Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller said, "Can't innovate anymore, my ass" when announcing the new Mac Pro at last month's developer conference. Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty wrote that a smart watch from Apple could be worth as much as $10 billion to $15 billion in annual revenue for Apple, assuming a $200 price point. Rich Tehrani, chairman of the Wearable Technology Conference, believes it could be a huge boon for the smart watch industry should Apple enter the market. "Apple's entry into the smartwatch space will take the smartwatch from its current 'geek technology' focus into the mainstream markets," Tehrani said in an emailed statement. "The likes of Fossil and Swatch have nothing to be concerned with so long as Sony and Pebble are the industry smartwatch leaders. Once Apple gets into the game, the smartwatch will become mainstream and will, in fact, directly target the Fossil and Swatch customer base. Apple intimately understands that the wrist is about fashion, not about technology." A product that does between $10 billion and $15 billion in annual sales isn't going to drastically move the needle for Apple, which is projected to generate sales of $171.4 billion in fiscal 2013, and $187 billion in fiscal 2014, per Thomson Reuters. It will make investors feel that Apple still has more aces up its sleeve, and offer the consumer a great experience. Apple shares finished higher in trading Monday, up 0.22% to $427.44. -- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York >Contact by Email. Follow @Chris_Ciaccia