Beauty and Function: The Swiss Introduce a New Line of Smartwatches

960x650Alpina3_1310_enThese days, it seems the most trendy accessory a person can wear is a smartwatch. Wearing one might earn you a little cred among your tech savvy friends, but it certainly won’t win you any awards in fashion. Even the Apple Watch designed by Sir Jonathan Ive looks awkward in comparison to a classic, beautifully hand-crafted Swiss timepiece. Luckily, it seems the Swiss are not content to accept beauty over brains. Last week, three iconic Swiss watchmakers – Alpina, Frederique Constant and Mondaine – announced their own line of intelligent watches.

From the outside, the new timepieces are designed to look and act like traditional precision mechanical watches. They even maintain the laser-cut analog displays and hands. However, on the inside these watches are powered by the same technology found in Jawbone fitness wearables.

Utilizing low-power Bluetooth, the watches will be able to connect to an app installed on your Andriod or iOS smartphone, allowing you to track your activity levels, sleep cycles and even get reminders to move around if you’ve been sedentary for too long. If you want to check your stats quickly, without pulling out your phone, the watches also have a secondary analog dial on which you can view them.

Fullpower, the company which provides the technology within each piece, claims the watches will run for 2 years on a single battery, eliminating a key weakness of many fitness bands. “More than half of the people who use wearable fitness trackers take their devices off to charge them and never put them on again,” he said at the watches’ unveiling in San Francisco. “These are watches you’ll never have to charge,’ says Fullpower CEO Philippe Kahn. You won’t have to worry about them falling behind the times either; the watches’ firmware can be updated wirelessly and the silicon module in each timepiece can be swapped out as technology improves.

Kahn believes the new line of watches will appeal to a different consumer than the typical Apple Watch or Samsung Gear user. “There are billions of people on the planet who wear watches,” he says. “Apple will dominate the smartwatch market out of sheer brute force, but there’s still plenty of people who want something that helps keep track of their health but still looks elegant.”

The three Swiss companies are expected to introduce about 10 models of smartwatches for men and women. Don’t expect a break in the price, however. The watches will be significantly more expensive than digital smartwatches, with base prices starting at $1,000.

They will be available in stores starting in May.

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