The popularity of smartwatches is putting pressure on the traditional market, with tech-led sales outstripping Swiss watches for the first time ever last year (Strategy Analytics, 2016). Keen to avoid being left behind, savvy brands are teaming up to create wearables that both reflect consumers’ style and meet their technological needs.
Key launches from this year's Baselworld (March 17-24) – the premier trade show for the watch and jewellery industry – showcase how the fashion and smart-tech markets are colliding.
- Designer Edition: Playing on the popularity of its existing watch collection, American fashion brand Michael Kors announced the launch of two smartwatches on Google's Android Wear platform. The styling follows the conventional look of Kors watches – the digital display mimics a traditional chronograph. Aimed at a fashion-led customer, the devices will be sold in department and brand stores rather than technology outlets.
- Ultra-Luxe: The appeal of luxury smartwatches continues with the launch of South Korean brand Samsung's diamond-encrusted Gear S2 – the result of a collaboration between the tech giant and Swiss jeweller De Grisogono. The design features rose-gold detailing, plus more than 100 black and white diamonds around the watch face. The launch follows a similar partnership between LG and Reeds Jewellers, seen at IFA Berlin last year.
- Updating Tradition: In its new release, Italian luxury brand Bulgari has integrated smart technology into a mechanical watch for a device that bridges the gap between the two sectors. The Diagono Magn@sium timepiece features MasterCard contactless payment capabilities, and WiseKey cyber security technology. The latter gives wearers access to the Bulgari Vault app – the software encrypts their private data for a hyper-secure cloud service.
Watch out for our upcoming reporting from the Wearable Technology Show for more on this evolving market. In the meantime, look back to our personal electronics coverage from International CES 2016 and IFA Berlin 2015 for more recent smartwatch launches.