Swiss Watchmakers Showcase Varied Approaches to Smartwatch Technology [iOS Blog]

Following Apple’s unveiling of a March 9 media event that will most likely focus on the pricing and launch date for the Apple Watch, Swiss watchmakers Swatch, Frédérique Constant and Alpina have recently released more details regarding products that will be residing in the same smart wearable space as the Apple Watch (via Watch Insider).

Swatch yesterday announced the Swatch Touch Zero One, a new smartwatch with a dedicated touch screen and a focus on durability and outdoor activity. The sports-heavy focus comes thanks to the company’s partnership with the Beach Major Company, which specializes in organizing and putting on Beach Volleyball competitions.

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Besides volleyball specific functions like counting “power hits” and “power claps”, the Touch Zero One will apparently compete most directly with the Apple Watch Sport, thanks to its enhanced durability, lightweight frame, and sweat-proof band.

“Beach Volleyball is a wonderful sport, a thrill for the players and very exciting for the fans,” said Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek. “We’ve had great fun in the past and now we want to push it further with the new Major Series in collaboration with the FIVB. With the players we share a passion for this great, young sport and look forward to the upcoming tournaments.”

Lacking from the Touch Zero One, however, is any mention of non-fitness related content such as phone, text, and e-mail notifications, even though the company confirmed the device will sync with a smartphone app. Swatch says the Swatch Touch Zero One will be “available this beach volleyball summer season” and cost those interested around $159.

Watch Insider also reported on the partnership between Swiss luxury watchmakers Alpina and Frédérique Constant, who have taken a different approach to the smartwatch business and introduced “smart” components into otherwise traditional timepieces instead of crafting an entirely new smartwatch line.

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The created platform, called Manufacture Modules Technologies (MMT), powers the new line of Swiss Horological Smartwatches and allows for a device that tracks sleep and activity in real time. It also syncs automatically with a smartphone app, allowing users to break down the information curated by the device into daily, weekly, or monthly categories. No confirmation was given but the price of the device was suggested to start at around $500 and go to over $1,000, with a planned May launch date.

“The Swiss Horological Smartwatch is the synthesis of high-tech innovation and traditional Swiss watch craftsmanship; it is the link (no pun intended) between modern and classic, and the bridge between Silicon Valley and Switzerland,” said co-founder and CEO of the Frédérique Constant group Peter Stas. “There is no digital screen on our Swiss Horological Smartwatch. Instead, the beautiful laser cut hands on the watch dial display information in analog form.”

A few companies who have been in the watch business for a while have reversed course – including Swatch itself – on dismissing the trend of smartwatches, announcing new products to be released around the launch window of the Apple Watch or sometime later in the year. More and more companies are announcing their own product additions to the smart wearable trend almost every week in preparation for the Apple Watch, which new rumors suggest could launch within the first week of April.



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