After a dip in sales late last year, smartwatches made by tech companies like Apple, Samsung and Huawei are seeing a surge in demand worldwide – and it’s quite clear that these companies are creating a new market for themselves, rather than denting the universe of traditional watch makers. That is probably also the reason why the big five of the luxury watch business (Rolex, Omega, Cartier, Patek Philippe and Longines) have so far not been tempted to go `smart’. A handful of companies, both in the luxury and premium segment, have however taken the plunge, to create their versions of the smartwatch. Here are some that have stood out this year:
TAG HEUER CONNECTED MODULAR 45
The second watch in TAG Heuer’s smartwatch series, made in collaboration with Intel and Google, stands out not so much for all its `smart’ properties, but for another feature – its facility for extreme customization. As the name signifies, everything about this watch is modular. As a result, the case, lugs, bezel, strap and buckle can all be interchanged. Most importantly, its `smart’ module can be swapped for a `mechanical’ one. You can instantly switch from a connected watch to a mechanical watch, and back again. You can go to the brand’s website, where a Watch Selector sub-section enables the customization of the design from a possible 56 different combinations.
In the creation of its first smartwatch collection, Montblanc has combined the vintage style of its 1858 line with the new Android Wear 2.0 operating system. The 46 mm case comes in four different materials; black PVD coated stainless steel, a bicolour stainless steel case with a black PVD-coated stainless-steel bezel, stainless steel case with satin finish and a titanium case, also with a satin finish. The display is in the form of a round AMOLED touch-screen.
The Android-driven functions controlled via an app include a microphone for voice commands, a heart-rate monitor, sensors for measuring steps and activities, a gyroscope, compass, barometer, ambient light sensor that adjusts the screen brightness, notification for emails or messages, meetings and weather and a Montblanc-designed alarm clock and stopwatch. The Google Play music app allows the synchronization of music into the watch’s internal memory. The Worldtimer micro-app, with day and night visualisation, indicates time in 24 time zones. The classic style watch face features complications like an automatic with date, small second or chronograph, while the sportier TimeWalker Urban Speed watch face comes with an automatic date or chronograph complication. Beyond this, the brand also offers personal customization in the form of 300 different wearable combinations.
TAG HEUER CONNECTED MODULAR 45
The modularity concept extends to the Android Wear-powered `smart’ part of the watch. There is a selection of 30 watch dials available for download on the TAG Heuer Connected phone app, many of them inspired by historical pieces, such as the famous panda dial. The options include white, black, light grey, anthracite grey, chocolate brown, navy blue or gold, with sunray finish, skeleton dial, 3 hands, GMT, a chronograph with 1, 2, or 3 counters, plus a date and day window. Once the dial is downloaded, you can also choose to display up to three of your favourite apps on the dial for the various functions that are available, including ones for measuring activity, calories burnt, calendar etc.
The 45 mm case is offered in a range of materials – satin or polished titanium with the option of 18K rose gold plating and black ceramic, with or without diamonds. 18 different varieties of straps are available, including ones made from rubber, natural leather or anthracite grey leather, titanium and ceramic. And for the mechanical movement, the options include the simpler 3 hands calibre 5 model, or a grand complication in the form of a tourbillion.
The watch is fitted with a small water-resistant microphone, enabling the wearer to communicate with it using Google Assistant, as well as a sapphire crystal touchscreen, to be used alongside the command crown at 3 o’clock. It features 4 GB of storage memory and a latest generation lithium battery, providing more than a full day of power.
CITIZEN BLUE TOOTH WATCH
This analogue watch links with a smartphone app via Bluetooth, which enables auto-time correction for 316 cities around the world. It also indicates incoming calls, emails and text messages through sound and vibrations. It helps users find their smartphone by getting the phone to emit a sound, to pinpoint its location. The watch is powered by Eco-Drive technology that can generate power from any light source, artificial, natural and even dim light, so no cable charging is necessary. On a full charge, it will run for up to four years in power-save mode.
FREDERIQUE CONSTANT E-STRAP
The E-Strap is a patented smart buckle and strap that fits on the analogue watch; its purpose is to add smart functionality to existing watches. When worn, the buckle merges seamlessly with the strap and becomes an extension of the watch. It wirelessly connects with an MMT-365 App that can be downloaded on Apple and Android smart phones.
The buckle can be used for tracking activities, including sleep monitoring, daily steps, distance, calories burnt and sleep cycle. The E-Strap independently stores activity for 30 days, without having to synchronize the smartphone. It also provides a cloud back-up and has a battery life of seven days.
CASIO G-SHOCK GRAVITY MASTER GPW 2000
This watch employs the world’s first 3-way time sync system, which receives both radio wave and GPS satellite time calibration signals while also connecting to time servers by pairing with a smartphone, which automatically updates the watch’s internal data on time zones via Bluetooth. Its design and performance reflect the world perspective of an aviation concept G- Shock, including the dial, which is designed to evoke the image of cockpit indicators.
Acquired positioning data is viewed, with the latitude displayed on the in-dial at the 9 o’clock position and the longitude displayed in the small window at the 6 o’clock. It also has a Flight Log function that records location and time data when the watch button is pressed, for display on a smartphone map. The solar-charging system ensures continuous operations for 23 months with power-saving function switched on after a full charge.