The Watch Industry’s Old Guard Needs To Smarten Up

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The Baselworld 2017 watch show is a concentrated look at a glamorous industry steeped in history. Visitors get a glimpse of some astonishing innovation, incredible quality, and truly exciting timepieces. Except they mostly do so with their noses pressed up against glass cases, like school children outside a sweet shop. For some of the world’s best watchmakers, Baselworld’s motto should be “look, but don’t touch,” which coincidentally is exactly the response it has to technology and the rise of the smartwatch.

It’s a worryingly archaic approach, but it perfectly illustrates a growing split in the industry — where some watch makers are evolving, adapting, and embracing smart technology while the rest stick with how things have always been done, showing little desire to change. If there was a trend at the show, it’s that watch companies who are embracing technology (or are prepared to in the near future), are more open, more social, and better understand the benefits of engaging with people… More at Digital Trends.

I agree to a point. However, some watches are so expensive that there has to be a distance between the product and the consumer. Then again, the watch industry is full of the most hateful snobbery which will eventually have to step aside for it to survive.

The Frederique Constant E-Strap launched

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Frederique Constant has quietly launched its smart E-Strap, a leather watch strap with fitness tracking tech built into the buckle.

While smart straps have a history of being somewhat… horrible, the Frederique Constant may have totally changed the game. Made of top quality leather with the tech built into the svelte buckle, the E-Strap has a legitimate claim to being a smart choice for those looking for a fitness tracker… More at Wareable.

Love this idea. If it works well, it could satisfy those like me who really do love proper watches.

The Oris Chronoris

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1970, rollin’ in sight. Oris gave the world the Chronoris that year, the company’s first in-house chronograph movement. A clever name, a big case, and all the splashy Seventies graphics your wrist could handle made it quite a compelling piece.

But the Seventies are back, baby, as we’ve seen with so many of these reissues or tribute watches. And at Baselworld this year Oris is diving into its history, and the aesthetic, but not as exactly as you think… More at Worn & Wound.

There are tons of retro recreations around at the moment, but the Oris Chronoris is one of the best I have seen.

What perplexes me about 1970’s watches is that everything else from the era (clothes, furniture, cars etc) was pretty hideous, but the watches were stunning.

The Movado Connect vs the Longines Heritage 1945

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The Movado Connect is an attempt by  luxury watchmaker to create a smart watch that appeals to traditional watch enthusiasts and from the look of the image above, it is original and really quite a looker.

Compare this with the Longines Heritage 1945 below and you see the full range of tastes and what the industry as a whole is having to consider. The Longines is beautiful, it really is, but it does simple tell the time and it leaves me wondering which I would rather wear. At this moment, the Longines still takes it for me.

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The Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017 Prospex

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Then, the dial and the bezel of this Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017 are also extremely faithful to the 1965 version: same 3D embossed rectangular indexes (made in the same way as the old version), with large dimensions and a lot of luminous paint for night readability, same straight hands, same date window circled by a metallic ring (to match with the indexes… Seiko already had the sense of design, by integrating the date in a stylish way), the same kind of inscriptions on the dial. Even the “Diashock” mention is here. The narrow bezel, now unidirectional of course, retains the same slim profile and identical markers, numerals and dots. Visually, the resemblance between this new Seiko 62Mas Reedition SLA017 and its ancestor is simply baffling… More at Monochrome.

If you are going to re-issue a classic watch, make a perfect copy. Well done Seiko!

Android Wear heads to luxury watches

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Some of the companies expected to make waves at Baselworld include the likes of Michael Kors, Tag Heuer, Swatch, and Guess — and many of the devices released will come with Android Wear 2.0, Google’s smartwatch operating system, right out of the box.

The Connected Modular 45 was officially unveiled a week before Baselworld 2017, but we’re expecting to see the device on show at the event. Under the hood, the watch features Intel’s Atom processor. It connects via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and NFC, and also runs Android Wear 2.0, the latest and greatest version of Google’s wearable OS. Last but not least, it has a 1.39-inch display and is water resistant… More at Digital Trends.

I wonder if Google has a way in here that did not apply to phones and tablets. Watch brands have a huge amount of history and value to some people and it is possible that a Tag smart watch will be more appealing to some than an Apple Watch.

The Whisky Watch

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Swiss watchmaker Louis Moinet has partnered with Wealth Solutions, a Polish company that specialized in luxury collectibles to add a drop of Old Vatted Glenlivet 1862 — the oldest whiskey in the world — into a glass chamber in 50 watches. The gold version of the Whisky Watch will sell for $45,000, which is a midrange price for Louis Moinet watches, while a steel version will cost around $17,000 (that’s still hella expensive)… More at The Verge.

Everything that is wrong with the watch industry in one product.