SMART­WATCHES, THE SWISS FIGHT BACK

HWM (Singapore) - - Front Page - by Ken­nyYeo

The war on smart­watches has be­gun.

Ap­ple has the knack of get­ting peo­ple ex­cited over things and now that they have be­gun sell­ing its own smart­watch - the Ap­ple Watch - the topic of smart­watches is now on every­body’s lips. And where watches are con­cerned, one can­not ig­nore the Swiss. The Swiss are af­ter all the largest ex­porters of watches in terms of value - ac­count­ing for more than half the world’s to­tal watch ex­ports. That said, the gen­eral at­ti­tude of Swiss brands to­ward smart­watches is that of cau­tion. Some, how­ever, have taken a more ac­tive stance to­wards smart­watches and have openly an­nounced plans to de­velop their own.

Most re­cently at Basel­world 2015, Tag Heuer an­nounced a part­ner­ship with tech gi­ants Google and In­tel to launch a smart­watch, in what seems like a deal that with ben­e­fit all par­ties. Tag Heuer is a prom­i­nent player in the af­ford­able luxury watch mar­ket and both Google and In­tel have the tech­ni­cal knowhow to ex­e­cute both the hard­ware and soft­ware for the watch. In­ter­est­ingly, this marks a dra­matic U-turn for Tag Heuer, whose in­terim CEO Jean-Claude Biver said last year that smart­watches lacked sex ap­peal and that they would not stand the test of time.

While all of this was hap­pen­ing, a joint ven­ture called MMT (Man­u­fac­ture Mod­ules Tech­nolo­gies) an­nounced its new Horo­log­i­cal Smart­watch Plat­form. To un­der­stand the Horo­log­i­cal Smart­watch Plat­form, we have to look at the com­pa­nies in­volved and they are Fullpower Tech­nolo­gies and Union Hor­logere Hold­ings. The for­mer is per­haps most well-known for its Mo­tionX ac­tiv­ity tracker plat­form, which pow­ers de­vices from Jaw­bone and Nike. The lat­ter is the par­ent com­pany of Swiss brands Fred­erique Con­stant and Alpina. The Horo­log­i­cal Smart­watch Plat­form is there­fore a mod­u­lar smart­watch plat­form that watch brands can use to power their smart­watches. This will al­low brands to save re­sources on de­vel­op­ing their own hard­ware, al­low­ing them to con­cen­trate solely on de­sign. Al­ready, Fred­erique Con­stant, Alpina and Mondaine have plans to launch watches base on this new plat­form.

Ac­cord­ing to MMT CEO Peter Stas, one of the key re­quire­ments of this new smart­watch plat­form is to cre­ate a watch that does not need to be fre­quently charged, and so watches us­ing the Horo­log­i­cal Smart­watch Plat­form are ex­pected to have a bat­tery life of around two years. Con­cep­tu­ally, the Horo­log­i­cal Smart­watch Plat­form is very sim­i­lar to ex­ist­ing of­fer­ings from French brand Withings. Watches pow­ered by the Horo­log­i­cal Smart­watch Plat­form will es­chew dig­i­tal dis­plays for more tra­di­tional and clas­sic ana­log di­als. And from pho­tos that we have seen, the watch will have a progress in­di­ca­tor show­ing how far the wearer is from reach­ing his or her daily goal. An ac­com­pa­ny­ing app will be able to show more de­tailed analy­ses of the wearer’s ac­tiv­ity lev­els and progress. In con­sid­er­a­tion of the Quartz Cri­sis of the 1970s where it nearly wiped out the en­tire Swiss watch in­dus­try, Swiss brands are un­der­stand­ably very wary of de­vel­op­ments with re­gard to smart­watches. And although some brands have al­ready sig­naled their in­ten­tions to pur­sue their own smart­watch, it re­mains to be seen whether the Swiss in­dus­try at large is ready to em­brace this new tech­nol­ogy and cat­e­gory of watches.

"One of the key re­quire­ments of this

new smart­watch plat­form is to cre­ate a watch that does not need to be fre­quently

charged.”

HWM

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