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The Guess Connect smartwatch is expected to hit Australian shores later this year
The Guess Connect smartwatch is expected to hit Australian shores later this year

Traditional brands join smartwatch bandwagon

Apple may have dominated headlines during its recent Apple Watch presentation but that’s not the only development in the smartwatch arena potentially affecting the jewellery industry.
Apple Watch
Apple Watch

While Apple revealed a number of details about its version of the smartwatch last week – including the fact it would be available for purchase on 24 April not only through the company’s own stores but also a number of boutique-style fashion outlets – other new announcements have signalled that traditional watch manufacturers are serious about entering the market.

Fashion watch brand Guess Watches recently unveiled its own smartwatch, Guess Connect, at an electronics show in Barcelona.

The company, which partnered with smartwatch developer Martian Watches, based the design on its existing Rigor model. The timepiece is said to incorporate voice command functionality via Bluetooth and allows the wearer to talk, listen and respond to texts and emails directly from the watch.  

Belinda Towler, marketing executive for Guess Watches local supplier Designa Accessories, told Jeweller that the smartwatch was expected to be released in Australia around August as part of the brand’s summer 2015 collection.

“Smartwatches are not yet mainstream in Australia; however, they do have the potential to affect fashion watch sales as the appeal of new and advanced technology grows amongst consumers,” she explained.

Jean-Claude Biver, LVMH Group head of watch division
Jean-Claude Biver, LVMH Group head of watch division

“Guess is aware of this concern and as a leader in the fashion watch category, the brand has recognised the importance of smart high-tech time pieces and cleverly married the two categories with the launch of Guess Connect.”

Swiss get on board

In addition to companies operating in the fashion watch category, a number of Swiss watch brands – routinely known for protecting their heritage – have also announced plans to enter the smartwatch sector.

Swatch Group, which will reportedly release its first tech-enhanced timepieces in May, and Tag Heuer are two watch giants currently working on their own versions – a move many industry experts predict is in direct response to the impending release of the Apple Watch.

Interestingly, the Tag Heuer smartwatch is said to be the brand’s first timepiece not to be developed in Switzerland. 

“We are not in the communications industry,” Jean-Claude Biver, head of the watch division for Tag Heuer’s parent company LVMH Group, told Bloomberg.

Mondaine Helvetica No 1 Horological Smartwatch
Mondaine Helvetica No 1 Horological Smartwatch

“The hardware and the software will come from Silicon Valley. But the watch case, the dial, the design, the idea, the crown, that part of the watch will, of course, be Swiss,” Biver added.

The company’s research and development business has also reportedly been split into two departments to reflect the “different craftsmanship” involved in developing the smartwatch. One department focuses on research and development with watchmakers and watch engineers, the other with engineers of technology.

In addition, watch brand Mondaine claims to have already produced “the first-ever Swiss-made horological smartwatch”. 

The Mondaine Helvetica No 1 Horological Smartwatch is said to have the appearance of the existing Mondaine Helvetica Bold model but features additional smart technology to monitor activity and sleeping patterns. It will preview at this year’s Baselworld.

More reading
Apple learns from jewellery stores
Jewellery and watch companies exhibit at CES
Jury is out on Apple Watch
Apple releases smartwatch developer kit
The real Apple Watch ‘game’


Monday, 20 August, 2018 03:24am
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