Do smartwatches have a place in the luxury timepiece market?
Tuesday - 17 September 2013
With the recent announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which will join the ranks of Sony's SmartWatch 2 and the crowd-funded Pebble, it looks as though smartwatches are set to be a feature of modern life.
All we're waiting for now is Apple's iWatch.
For those with a refined taste in watches, this begs the question: is their space for smartwatches among luxury timepieces?
Smartwatches are certainly feature rich. As well as putting internet access and Android apps on our wrists, we'll also be able to make phone calls by simply swiping the watch screen. The Gear includes a built-in microphone and speaker, and a 1.9 megapixel camera for taking quick snaps. What's more, the Gear features an accelerometer and other sensors, so we'll be able to track movement and fitness regimes.
All these features are well and good, but do smartwatches have the enchantment and romance of traditional timepieces?
In our recent series on watch movements, mechanical watches came out as the clear favourite among our readers and Facebook fans.
Philip Stopher-Walker said he prefers mechanical movements because "A mechanical watch has a heartbeat - a soul." Damon Woolley, meanwhile, put it succinctly when he wrote: "There's not a lot [that] can be said for a circuit board."
Stuart Russell was arguably the most eloquent, and struck to the heart of why mechanical watches have such a strong appeal to watch lovers. He wrote: "The fundamental charm of mechanical watches lies in the cogs, the springs, the oil and the maintenance, not to mention the longevity. I'm surrounded by microprocessors in almost every other walk of life so I'd prefer to stick with analogue on my wrist."
The rise of smartwatches shows there is clearly space in the overall watch market for wrist-sized tablet computers - at least among the tech crowd. But if the views of our readers on mechanical watches represent our customer base, then it looks as though smartwatches have some work to do before they can win the hearts of luxury timepiece aficionados.
Jura's chief executive, Matt Warren, agrees that smartwatch manufacturers have work to do.
In an interview with WatchPro earlier this year, Matt confirmed that Jura Watches will be stocking smartwatches. However, he added: "The appearance needs to improve on current models to appeal more to the luxury crowd. Apple will achieve this. Personally, I think this stuff will be big. Wearable tech is the future."
What's your take on smartwatches? Can a smartwatch have soul? What features would win you over to being a smartwatch wearer?