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The smart set
Beginner's Guide

The smart set

Thursday, 10 March 2016
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Alex Ballmer
Social media specialist

“The passing of time is forever lost. ”


“Addicted to fine watchmaking.”

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4 min read

Contrary to popular belief, Fine Watch brands aren’t stuck on the sidelines of the smartwatch market. We take a look at the current offerings. Take your pick.

Ronaldo meets David Guetta

The lucky owners of a TAG Heuer Connected can switch dials thanks to the brand’s ambassadors and Chief Executive Jean-Claude Biver. They have put their creative caps on to imagine new designs for the watch’s digital dial or “watch face”, inspired by their world. Eleven new designs by the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David Guetta are available from the TAG Heuer Connected exclusive app.

TAG Heuer Connected Watch Cristiano Ronaldo
TAG Heuer Connected Watch Cristiano Ronaldo

The watch, made by TAG Heuer in partnership with Intel and Google, is powered by Android. It does not qualify for the Swiss Made label as 98% of components are manufactured outside Switzerland. It proposes the usual range of smartwatch functions via a touchscreen display: email, text, social media updates, applications, etc. The 46-mm diameter ensures easy navigation and reading comfort – ideal for catching up with HH Journal! As Jean-Claude Biver never tires of reminding us, a watch is a piece of eternity on the wrist. Fully aware that a smartwatch has only a limited lifespan, TAG Heuer is giving anyone who buys a TAG Heuer Connected the possibility to trade it in after two years for a mechanical Carrera, although this will cost them around €1,300.

The high-tech mechanical watch

Frédérique Constant’s Horological Smartwatch provides similar functions to an activity tracking wristband, such as a step-counter and sleep pattern monitoring, the difference being that this is a Swiss-Made mechanical watch. It has full connected functionality to communicate with a smartphone, for example to set a new time zone in the world time function or to display activity records. Despite being packed with technology, on the outside it looks every inch like a traditional mechanical watch. Why not opt for a mini-computer with LED screen? “We knew that square screens weren’t selling to men,” explains Peter Stas, Chief Executive of Frédérique Constant. This could prove a wise move.

Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch
Frédérique Constant Smartwatch: “Beneath the classic dial of this Horological Smartwatch lie captors that connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth. A watch that doubles as a piece of medical equipment to measure sleep patterns and physical activity.”
All in the strap

Montblanc’s e-Strap incorporates its technology in the wristband, making it possible to transform any mechanical watch into a smartwatch. At SIHH 2015, Montblanc became the first Fine Watch brand to reveal what is an original solution in connected watches. Visitors to the trade fair were shown a NATO-style strap in leather with a 0.9-inch OLED screen incorporated into a carbon fibre reinforcement. It displays text messages, emails, appointment reminders, and vibrates to alert the wearer to social media updates and incoming calls. It has remote control functions for playing music on a smartphone and taking smartphone pictures. The Montblanc e-Strap also tracks activity and records data for anyone monitoring their fitness levels. Worth noting, it has a five-day battery life whereas an Apple Watch needs charging on a daily basis.

This is disruptive technology.
Jean-Christophe Babin
A vault on the wrist

Bulgari is putting the emphasis on data security with the Diagono Magnesium, unveiled at Baselworld 2015. This NFC-enabled watch allows users to access confidential personal data through a two-stage authentication process of password and chip. Data is stored on the cloud by WISeKey, a specialist in data security and partner to Bulgari for the project. “This is the first time cryptography is available in a physical object,” says Bulgari Chief Executive Jean-Christophe Babin. “It’s disruptive technology.” Technology that could well appeal to companies in constant need of sensitive data protection.

Bulgari Diagono Magnesium
Bulgari Diagono Magnesium
Doing what they do best

Breitling started out with an innovative premise: must a smartwatch rely on a smartphone in order to work? This led the brand to develop the Exospace B55 Connected. It is, says Jean-Paul Girardin Vice-President of Breitling, perfectly complementary to a smartphone, as each “does what it does best.” The watch communicates with a smartphone to set the time, change time zones, or set the alarm. It also sends data such as flight times to the phone for improved legibility. This innovative concept is, for the time being, limited to the world of aviation.

Breitling Exospace B55 Connected
Breitling Exospace B55 Connected

This brief overview shows how connected watches are opening up new opportunities for Swiss Fine Watch brands, although some are happy to let the bandwagon roll on by. One such brand is H. Moser & Cie whose Swiss Alp Watch is a mechanical timepiece that bears a strange resemblance to the Apple Watch. Edouard Meylan, Chief Executive of the brand, has this to say: “This watch is a true symbol for us. It represents our determination to stand up and fight for our values and traditions. It’s what we believe in.” It remains to be seen how much of a threat connected and smartwatches are. The upcoming Baselworld will doubtless go some way towards answering the question.

H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch
H. Moser & Cie Swiss Alp Watch
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