| Kaye Holland

Luxury Smartwatches: Old Glamour Gets A Digital Update

The luxury watch lives to fight another day.

The coolest wrists in the world right now are wearing luxury smartwatches. Translation? A watch that connects to the Internet – in addition to other devices like smartphones or tablets – in order to deliver real-time information to your wrist.

In the increasingly digital world that we live in, it’s no longer enough for a watch to simply tell the time. That may have been acceptable circa 2006 but fast forward to 2016 and we expect more – much, much more – from our timepieces.

We want a watch that can do it all – from taking pictures to tackling emails and texts, recording our heart rate, sleep and stress levels, checking our stocks and giving us real-time driving directions – something the booming sales of the Apple smartwatch help demonstrate.

What’s more, owning and wearing a smartwatch reduces the need to keep checking your smartphone, tablet, laptop et al – a life saver for time poor Sybarites. A cursory glance at your wrist will reveal who is reaching out to you and whether the request demands immediate attention, or can be delayed until a later date.

Not surprisingly the rise and rise of the smartwatch spells trouble for the luxury watchmaker market, with wearable tech devices reported to have overtaken their luxurious counterparts.

And it seems as though the luxury watch market has finally woken up to the fact that the clock is ticking for traditional timepieces.

Case in point? Tag Heuer – the 155-year-old Swiss maker of luxury watches – recently released its Connected Watch, which is powered by Google’s Android Wear operating system.

Tag Heuer isn’t the only luxury watch brand to have embraced smartwatches. The new ‘Michael Kors Access collection’ includes two Android Wear watches, aimed at offering a “stylish, even glamorous design” while Hublot is reported to be releasing a smartwatch feature sports-related functions.

The Bulgari Magnesium Wrist-vault.
The Bulgari Magnesium Wrist-vault.

Meanwhile, Swiss watchmakers Mondaine, Frédérique Constant and Alpina announced their own smartwatches that have the appearances of a traditional luxury watch.

Elsewhere Tissot has unveiled its Smart-Touch smartwatch which – when connected to your smartphone – will allow you to sync the time, get weather updates, change settings and share experiences with friends.

And Hermès has jumped on the bandwagon with its Hermès Apple Watch – a unique timepiece designed with both utility and beauty in mind. The latest collection features finely handcrafted leather bands from Hermès and Apple-designed watch faces based on the iconic Clipper, Cape Cod, and Espace Hermès watches.

Other luxury smartwatches to look forward to this winter, include the Bulgari Diagono Magnesium – described as a self-winding, mechanical watch that apparently works with a protected electronic passport called Luxury Wrist Vault.

All told, traditional wrist watches are having to up their game in the era of the much buzzed about Apple watch, but the question still remains: will luxury smartwatches ever truly take off?

Only time will tell…

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