The Swiss luxury watch industry appear determined to secure their spot in the wearable technology sector. While rising to the new challenge and meeting the demands of active, connected, stylish Millennials, I can’t help but think this is an industry trying to stay a step ahead to avoid a repeat of the quartz crisis.
Although I loved my Casio CA53W Digital Calculator Watch back in the 80s and the fact that it made me feel somehow connected to the future, our current obsession to stay connected 24/7 has to find a tipping point. When it comes to the functionality of wearable technology, let’s take a leaf out of FitBit’s hat, the smart company that started it all, and show some restraint. There is no need for an entire desktop crammed onto the wrist.
Breitling’s Exospace B55 connected chronograph has some impressive functionality but is essentially made for pilots and relies on a smartphone app to control most of its functions. For anyone with an on-the-go lifestyle who wants something practical yet luxurious there are a host of impressive releases this year. Most recent are the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon and Montblanc Summit. Louis Vuitton offers an on-brand, fashion-first, customisable strap and dial options for world travelers through exclusive content city guides and apps from LV, while the Summit is more of a sports-lovers watch. In both instances there are no physical dials or hands to speak of but are guaranteed of only the most premium levels of build quality. The Horizon features an AMOLED touch screen for the crispest viewing. The operating system is Android Wear 2.0 but compatible with iOS and has wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Summit has a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor and runs Android Wear 2.0. Made for adventures in the Alps, there are sensors to measure steps and heart rate. And if you lose your way there’s a compass and gyroscope. Although there is no cellphone connectivity or NFC payment chip, there’s wi-fi and Bluetooth and 4GB of storage for music and data. The Summit runs Android Wear 2.0 and there are a host of Montblanc dials to chose from. There's the usual mix of Montblanc-themed digital dials, including the TimeWalker and 1858 collections.
Connected Modular 45 is the company’s second smartwatch but this time it is officially Swiss Made. While the first relied on technological know-how supplied in the US by giants Google and Intel, the new electronic watch is designed, developed and assembled at their La Chaux-de-Fonds workshop. The Modular 45 features their new concept of a ‘connected module’, which is interchangeable with a haute horlogerie mechanical module if you wish to reconnect with ‘the past’ or get tired of yet another battery to charge. The concept of modularity also applies to the lugs, strap, buckle. Tech specs include GPS, an NFC sensor for payments, and a high definition AMOLED screen with unlimited customisable TAG Heuer dials. Running on Google’s Android Wear 2.0 with the new TAG Heuer Companion app means a vastly improved experience to the first watch.
The Frederique Constant Horologica offers a more classic take on connected and smart. Featuring their MMT-285 Connected quartz movement – with 25 months battery life – it has bi-directional communication with iPhone and Android Apps but unlike other smartwatches there is no digital screen. Although it connects to your smart phone, it also operates autonomously with its sensors accurately tracking your sleep, walking and running activity.