Truth be told, when watch journalists such as myself were told about a new big launch that was coming up by Frederique Constant, I was interested, being a fan of the brand. Yet, when I was told that it would be a Smartwatch, I started to become very curious.
What would it look like I wondered? What could it do, and most of all, why from Frederique Constant? After all, this is a brand with mechanical manufacture movements such as the Heart Beat Manufacture, the dazzlingly beautiful Worldtimer and even a Tourbillon in their collection, a brand thoroughly rooted in the values of traditional Swiss watch making. Why were they introducing something that at first glance seems entirely out of character?
As Frederique Constant Executive Board Member Aletta Stas told me, “30-50% of the 21 million Swiss Made Quartz watches sold every year will be smart connected in the coming years, and we cannot wait for others to cannibalize our business, we have to jump in first.”
Indeed, Smart Watches have been an industry talking point for some time, with the recent appearance of the Apple Watch beginning the conversation. Certainly at this point, the jury is out on whether the Apple Watch will become the next big thing, yet this move sparked reaction from the Swiss watch industry, with rumors of a few big brands starting development into products that would have such smart capability. Indeed it seemed, the turf war for the wrist of the watch buyer was starting to heat up between the traditional watchmakers and the electronics manufacturers.
Today, we have what can be seen as a salvo from the Swiss Brands, with Frederique Constant leading the charge by introducing a watch that to my relief, looks like any watch you would come to expect from the brand: classical in design, with nary a touch-screen in sight.
This point is important as the watch is billed as a “synthesis of high tech innovation and traditional Swiss watch craftsmanship.” At the press conference in Tokyo yesterday on the 26th of February, the “Horological Smartwatch” was revealed that looks on the wrist, like any watch you’d expect from Frederique Constant. Yet look closer and you’ll notice the 6 o’clock sub-dial carrying a clue of the smart capability of the watch.
There are two hands in this sub-dial. The shorter hand is the date function, the longer hand points to a number (between 1 and 100) expressing a value connected to a specific function. Press the crown and when the shorter hand points to the moon, it represents a change of function, and the longer hand responds by moving to indicate a different value.
Obviously this can be used to indicate anything, as along as it can be expressed as a percentage. Indeed, one can easily think of many things that can be tracked this way, with the added utility of having this information readily available on the wrist.
For example, the Horological Smart Watch can track your “Objectives” that you set, of say the number of steps you need to walk in a day to achieve your fitness goals. At a glance, you can see in real time how close or far you are to that goal.
Inside the watch, the MotionX sensor tracks your activity and sleep patterns, connecting to your smartphone via the MotionX app (available via the Apple Store or Google Play), and sending the data from its sensors to be displayed in easy to understand graphics.
It’s essentially similar to what you’d find in a fitness tracking watch, with a precision sensor measuring your level of activity and even how long you sleep via the Sleeptracker function. All this of course is aimed provide feedback to users and assisting in achieving better sleep and a more active lifestyle.
The main difference however with this watch, from other fitness trackers available right now is that it is no plastic lump. Instead, it is a beautifully designed watch with the aesthetics of the traditional Swiss watches we love, a beautiful object that can be enjoyed and treasured.
MMT (Manufactures Modules Technologies Sarl), a company set up as a joint venture between Fullpower Technologies Inc from Silicon Valley and the Frederique Constant Group has the intention to license the Horological Smartwatch platform which is powered by MotionX to other Swiss watch brands.
The underlying MotionX technology platform developed by Fullpower is licensed to MMT and MMT manages the development and the production of the modules incorporating the Fullpower technology.
This year, Frederique Constant and sister brand Alpina will release more than 10 different versions of the Horological Smartwatch in styles for both men and women.
I was able to see the flagship product of the range, a 42mm and classically styled men’s watch, available in different dial and case variations. The Rose Gold plated version shown above is one of the more fetching variations of this new watch.
As well, sister brand Alpina, in line with their more sport orient design and feel, will have their own versions with the same technology.
The question remainsl then on whether this will be the winning combination that will take the concept further in the market, as opposed to the more typical touchscreen equipped Smart Watch. It’s an intriguing question, and as a concept it is easy to see the appeal in the way that Frederique Constant have gone about it.
More information to follow on this very new development, but this is one we will definitely keep our eyes on.