It’s time watches need to be smart but without losing its timeless design -By Neil Shah
“If time is of relevance to you, always wear a watch”
Timepieces over the last hundred years have increasingly improved at telling time and adding to the “style equity” quotient. The luxurious watches worn by many are bought as investments with a sense of jewellery appeal and subtle display of wealth. However, in this digital age, the timekeeping wrist jewelry promises to do even more, adding significant meaningful value for their owners. This has given birth to the new category of digital smartwatches, from Samsung Gear S series to Apple Watch series.
However, these new age ‘smartphone like watches’ are on completely opposite ends of the “analog artisan-made” watches spectrum which many of us are in love with. These full-blown digital smartwatches bring almost a new form of user interaction, with features such as activity tracking, smart notifications, thus, adding a geeky look to our wrist (and personality). But these smartwatches are power hungry and need to be charged every night which is the biggest pain point apart from absence of the classic luxurious feel. Luxury watchmakers from Switzerland to Nordics to Americas, all have been keeping an eye on this segment. They have seen some potential premium users churn away or demanding similar advanced features in their carefully crafted luxurious analog watches. This has prompted luxury watch brands to invest in next generation watchmaking, striking a balance between the best of both worlds. They are successfully fusing a number of sensors into the classic analog form-factors without compromising much on the design, aesthetics and battery life of these wrist jewelry pieces. We can call this unique smart timepieces category as hybrid watches.
Frederique Constant Classics Smartwatch - FB285/281/282 Series
This horological smartwatch from Frederique Constant strikes a perfect balance between the traditional classic Swiss designed watch and digital smart features. The beautifully rose-gold plated stainless steel case with convex sapphire hosts a connected movement promising 25 months of battery life for the 285-classic version and 48 months for the 281/282-notify version.
The smartwatch pairs with the brand’s app on your smartphone via Bluetooth adding multiple levels of smart functionalities between your watch and the phone. This hybrid smartwatch to start with, keeps track of your daily activity from steps count, calories burned to total distance travelled. Furthermore, the sensors in the watch can monitor your sleep patterns – light deep or awake. It can thus act as a “dynamic coach” with all the sensor information about physical and sleep activity offering suggestions, tips and relevant fitness information to help you achieve your daily goals.
This hybrid watch also is designed to receive custom active alerts on your wrist reminding you to keep moving to meet your activity goals. Additionally, the “notify” version of the hybrid watch can receive discrete vibrations indicating on the dial if you missed a call or received a text message or an email or have a meeting.
With all these meaningful smartwatch features in a classic handcrafted configurable (band and dials) Swiss horology, it is the best integration of style and smart. The Frederique Constant is available for both men and women and comes in configurable variants to match your taste and style. The base version of this highly desirable hybrid watch starts at US$860 and can go up to US$1350.
Movado Museum Sport Motion Movado, one of the cleanest analog dial sporting watchmakers, has entered the hybrid space with its iconic Museum Sport hybrid watch which marries the iconic Movado Swiss mechanical design with smart digital technology. The clean, black design is what we think of when we hear the word “Movado” and this smartwatch design absolutely keeps that positioning in mind.
The Museum Sport pairs with the app in the smartphone via Bluetooth tracking daily activity, automatically syncing day, date and timezone, and acts as a coach. The watch crown button doubles to check the daily goals and switch between different tracking modes. Movado promises more than two years of battery life which is a boon compared to the fullblown digital smartwatches where battery lasts maximum 24 to 36 hours.
The 44mm stainless steel case and black bezel equipped Museum Sport Motion sports a clean analog main dial with an orange accent sub-dial featuring indicators for date and tracking the daily activity. The inner round black dial is bordered with matching reflector ring, iconic Movado silver dot at 12’o’clock
and contrast lending elegant hands. The watch has a Swiss quartz movement and 30m water resistance capabilities.
The Museum Sport Motion edition retails around USD 1200 and is a great buy especially for men who love black and steel.
Alpina, the Geneva, Switzerland based luxury watch manufacturer brand forayed into the smartwatch segment with its latest horological smartwatch series designed for both men and women. Alpina has designed these watches with a philosophy of taking watches from lifestyle to lifestyle tracking to help live a healthier life. Alpina is a favorite watch for larger than life individuals with an adventurous side, from rainmakers to polar explorers. The Alpina smartwatch comes in several designs from 44MM polished and brushed stainless steel casing with different colored dials for gents to 39 MM polished stainless steel and diamond set bezel with GUILLOCHÉ triangle pattern and hand-set diamonds in the dial for ladies. One of the sport-styled variants also features a classy navy sunray dial featuring a brown leather strap adding top-notch flair to the timepiece. Alpine is one of the very few luxury watchmakers who has got the design appeal right for women. It balances sophistication and elegance well. These timepieces promise more than two years of battery life and are water resistant up to 100 meters. The crown is the one stop control for all the smart functions when the watch is connected to your smartphone. The functions range from activity tracking with smart coaching to sleep monitoring with sleep-cycle alarms to active alerts and automatic world time sync for 24 timezones.
The Alpina Horological smartwatch collection ranges from US$600 to US$2500, providing the perfect accent for those well-dressed individuals, for a meeting or while on an expedition.
We have picked some of the top-quality hybrid timepieces for you to upgrade, making your wrist smarter: