The Second Wave
Smartwatches finally entered the mainstream last year. Sean Li assesses the first devices and their likely effect on the luxury watch market
here’s little argument that 2015 marked the year smartwatches (or, rather, connected devices) truly arrived on the world stage. While some devices were quite niche, such as fitness trackers and advanced electronic watches with global positioning, Apple brought the term to the mainstream with a range of fashionable, cool items for your wrist. How many manufacturers can lay claim to generating queues of keen buyers around the world? While it didn’t reach the frenzy a new iphone generates, there was considerable interest that extended beyond Apple fanatics.
In the build-up to that launch, Tag Heuer started working furiously behind the scenes to develop its Connected watch in partnership with tech giants Intel and Google. The smartwatch was launched in New York in November to great fanfare, generating queues of those who need to be on the edge of technology. While its operating system, Android Wear, is already in use in a number of smartwatches, the Tag Heuer Connected represents the first watch from a Swiss brand to fully embrace this nascent segment.
Other watch brands have also dipped their toes into the connected device pool, namely Montblanc with its E- Strap, IWC Schaffhausen with its Connect device (which may have been formally unveiled by the time you read these lines), Breitling with its Exospace B55, Frédérique Constant and its sister brand, Alpine, and Swatch. Each has a very different approach to connectivity, which is natural given the emerging nature of the market. The number of developments over the past few months is quite spectacular, even without including the smaller projects seeking to bring this functionality to the wrist.