Smartwatches are revolutionizing the way we think about wearables and of course watches. Gone are the times when the simplest of information were transferred and displayed through a mashing of gears and winding of springs, now all of these data and much more can be had at your fingertips; or wrist to be more appropriate. You don’t have to take my word for it, the numbers speak for themselves, if I were to ask you who is the largest manufacturer of wrist watches currently what would you say? Seiko? Swatch? Rolex? No, it’s Apple, much like what the quartz oscillator did for the mechanical watch in the 1970s, modern and traditional watches are now facing the same revolt again in the form of wearable tech.
The apple watch is unsurprisingly, the king of the hill in terms of both wrist watches and smartwatches, and now with the latest series 5 the brand is showing no signs of slowing down. With indispensable features that can allow you to access notifications, play music, monitor your health and fitness, and of course tell you what time it is. Based on logic alone, the smartwatch is without a doubt superior to the traditional wrist watch, albeit the spring powered swiss lever escapement should have long been obsolete over half a century ago, and yet for some of us, it’s the intangible and the most rudimentary of things that puts a smile on our faces.
Tissot Le Locle Regulateur T0064283605802
And that brings us to this, the Tissot Le Locle automatic regulator, with thrice as many dials as the apple watch, you’d think it’ll have plenty of information to convey, but you’d be wrong. All those dials tell are the hour, minutes, and seconds, oh and a small date indicator too for good measure. For something that is so visually complicated, compared to the apple watch with its clean, minimalist appearance, the Le Locle automatic regulator really looks like a relic from a different time, especially next to a smartwatch. Powering it is an equally old-fashioned, mechanical movement, albeit with a self-winding rotor to keep it powered on your wrist, but still, a quick charge of a smart watch can easily outlast the paltry 38 hours of power reserve on the Tissot. So, what is the point of a traditional watch in this day and age with technology that has already rendered them functionally, obsolete? I am, of course being deliberately obtuse here, because the reason why we buy watches, and keep wanting to buy them is not because of any form of logical reasoning, in fact buying these watches are anything but logical. We buy these watches with our hearts, if we were to listen to our head all the time, we’d only have one smartwatch and that would be that. But we don’t, and that’s why watches like this Le Locle Regulateur is still able to tickle the most basic, and most primal nodes in our brains, and if you don’t know what I’m going on about, just look at it, and that’s all that needs to be said.
Apple and the other smartphone companies aren’t the only ones capitalizing on this major shift in wearable tech, brands such as Garmin and Fossil too have emerged in creating smartwatches and have seen massive success in sales.
Garmin Fenix 6a Sapphire Shale Grey GM-010-02159-8P
The Garmin Fenix 6a is part of a very strong lineup of up and coming smartwatches from the brand and for good reason. It has an extremely premium finish to its materials, from the brushed bezel to the matte finished case, polished buttons and sapphire crystal screen, it also packs a punch with its wide array of features. Equipped with a heart-rate and pulse monitor, GPS, ABC Sensors, smart notifications, Garmin pay services, multi-satellite support and multi-sport watch OS, there will be almost no situation in your life where you won’t find this watch useful for.
GARMIN VIVOMOVE STYLE MOSS GREEN GM-010-02240-81 HYBRID SMARTWATCH
The vívomove Style smartwatch combines the traditional look of an analogue watch with the essential smart features you count on to keep up with your busy life. Its sleek, aluminium case and domed Corning Gorilla glass make for a chic but durable design. Suit every look with a variety of attractive colours and bands available in silicone or woven nylon. It comes equipped with an all-day health monitoring software, connected GPS for your walking/running activities, OHRM, SPO2, smart notifications as well as Garmin pay services.
FOSSIL HYBRID SMARTWATCH Q NATE DIGITAL BLACK STAINLESS STEEL FTW1114
The fossil Q Nate at first glance may not seem like it, but it is a smartwatch. It is a military-inspired hybrid smartwatch that blends analogue design with smart connectivity. With a new smart technology, this rugged wrist essential is always on, always connected with a battery life up to six months (based on usage). Strapped in smooth leather, the Q Nate features Arabic and stick indices with a blacked-out dial and black brushed case. Using Bluetooth technology, it allows you to receive smartphone notifications and accomplish your daily fitness goals when the hour, minute and sub-eye hands spin or the watch case vibrates. You can set alarms, view 24-hour time, compare times in multiple time zones and track everything from steps to calories to sleep. The pushers allow you to take photos, control music or find your phone with the help of the Fossil Q App. You can also customize your look with interchangeable straps. The Q Nate's simplicity and connectivity makes for the perfect on (or off) road companion. Powered by the Fossil Q App, Fossil Q Hybrid Smartwatches are compatible with both Android and Apple devices.
FOSSIL SPORT FTW4033 SMARTWATCH
The Fossil Q is the company’s line of smartwatches, they come in a variety of colours from muted monochromatic shades of grey, and white to vibrant tones like the red we have here. They come equipped with a variety of functions you would come to expect from a smartwatch, such as activity trackers, GPS, Heart-rate monitor, and many more.
Thanks to their functionality and convenience, smartwatches have become very much indispensable and go hand in hand with our smartphones as with our everyday lives. Unlike traditional watches, smartwatches aren’t something you can simply switch to, or wear on a particular day because ‘you feel like it’ due to all of the data and functions that they have. As a result, it permanently kills off wrist time for other watches in a collection for some users. This inability to switch between watches with a smartwatch is a heavy blow to the watch industry as people might just stop buying watches and start treating their watches like smartphones, because you really ever only need one. And with the constant innovation in technology, it is impossible for an outdated technology like the swiss lever escapement to be able to keep up with this rate of innovation. Though it might be completely unfair to say that Swiss watch makers are unable to innovate; look no further than Zenith’s Defy Inventor, Ulysse Nardin’s Freak Lab and Rolex’s development of the silicium hairspring escapement. However, innovations like these only comes once every few years whereas technological advancement, shifts exponentially with every passing year. Moore’s law shows that technological growth does not progress linearly, but exponentially which at some point in our lives, will reach a singularity where technology advances beyond our control, but that is for another time. So with many media outlets critiquing the Swiss watch industry for their lack of innovation and constant reissues for the sake of filling shelf space in stores, do understand that they are working with a technology that is over 200 years old and is long obsolete and has been for the last 50 years, unlike computers which have only been around for the later-half of the 20th century, for which progress only further accelerates progress.
The growth of social media is another cause for the seeming lack of innovation in the Swiss watch industry, with a constant growth and demand for the next hot ‘in-thing’ it is difficult for an industry, let alone one dealing in tools of the past to be able to keep up. It’s a mad scramble, to the top, though for many affordable watchmakers, it may seem that the battle has been lost. Based on pricing alone, many affordable watches priced below $3,000 is at high risk of being beaten out by smartwatches and will certainly lose a large chunk of their market-share to smartwatches. Whereas brands above that price point, Rolex, Omega, Breguet are safe from this ‘invasion’ it might simply be that people who can afford, or people who buy these watches buy them for their intrinsic value, not for convenient functionality. This is what will help the watch industry survive, keep its edge over smartwatches, simply resting on their laurels and releasing fashion/statement pieces one after another for the sake of filling shelves is no longer enough. Innovation is the way forward, and I am really looking forward to what the sub $3,000 range of watchmakers have to offer.
FOSSIL COMMUTER AUTOMATIC ROSE GOLD STAINLESS STEEL ME1168
The Fossil Commuter automatic is a rather special watch from the fashion giant. With its perfectly rounded case, soldered lugs and semi-skeletonized dial, it’s a perfect throwback and reminder to why we love and wear this otherwise outdated piece of technology.
EMPORIO ARMANI AR60012 MEN'S WATCH
This rather pretty piece from Emporio Armani acts as a reminder that creativity and style really does go a long way to why some of us still wear a traditional wrist watch. With two rotating discs; one displaying 24hours and another for the seconds, this watch doesn’t break any boundaries in mechanical watch making but it does raise the question; what more can we do with what we already have?
MASERATI POTENZA R8821108027
In terms of looks alone, this Maserati Potenza Automatic certainly shouts the loudest, with its wide skeletonized dial, angular and Big Bang-esque case, and that massive golden trident set against a stark black backdrop. However, this isn’t a case of all style and no substance for this, the historic super car maker knows better than that, powered by a Japanese Miyota automatic caliber and styled by an in-house team of Italian designers, it’s the perfect combination of Italian flair and Japanese reliability.
LUMINOX LEATHERBACK SEA TURTLE GIANT LM0321BO
Powered by the very technology that rendered the Swiss lever escapement obsolete in the 70s this quartz powered Luminox has fallen victim to what made its own technology a success in the first place, innovation. Granted we won’t be buying this watch for any practical sense besides, telling the time and the date, but its for the aforementioned intrinsic value in these watches that keeps us buying them. With its iconic Luminox stature, shining tritium tubes and incredible lack of heft (most of the watch is made of a lightweight carbon polymer) it is certainly an enthusiast watch that can stand the test of time.
As a species, we’re always moving forward, looking for new ways to improve ourselves, and our lives overall. Technology, is simply a result of this constant improvement and its rate of progress is a testament to our drive. Brands that are unable to innovate or differentiate themselves might end up in the pages of history books, and in order to stay relevant, forward is the direction to not only look to, but head to.