Swatch looking to release smartwatch to compete in wearables market

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Date: Friday, February 6th, 2015, 04:38
Category: Hardware, News, Wearables


It’s been a while since Swatch was considered hip and/or cutting edge, but the company might be seeing something in the wearables market.

Swatch Group AG announced plans to start selling a smartwatch within the next three months, potentially pitting the Swiss maker of colorful plastic timepieces against the debut of the Apple Watch.

The device will communicate via Near Field Communications and won’t have to be charged, Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview. The Swatch smartwatch will also let consumers make mobile payments and work with Windows and Android software, he said.

Analysts stated that the market for such timepieces, which enable phone or data communication, will probably reach about US$10 billion in 2018, Citigroup Inc. analysts forecast last year, with half of the market coming from traditional watch wearers switching to the devices.

Swatch has decades of experience developing technology that might go into a smartwatch, such as long-lasting batteries so thin they’re bendable. The company’s Tissot brand has made watches with touch-screens since 1999 that now offer an altimeter, a compass, and sensors to record a diver’s descent.

The Biel, Switzerland-based Swatch said its patent applications reached a record in 2014, adding it will be reflected in “numerous innovative project launches in all segments” this year. Such patents include batteries based on new materials that can double their performance, Hayek said.

The Apple Watch will feature health-tracking features and other applications for maps, photos, and messages. Apple CEO Tim Cook also rolled out a mobile-payment system last year. The Cupertino, California-based company hasn’t given information about the battery life of its smartwatch, which needs to be charged with a magnetic connector.

A few high-end Swiss watch brands, owned by luxury-goods makers LVMH, Moet, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton SA and Richemont, have been dipping a toe into the market. LVMH’s TAG Heuer plans to release a smartwatch this year, featuring GPS functions and health monitoring. Richemont’s Montblanc has unveiled an “e-Strap,” an interchangeable watch band that can track the wearer’s activities and can help find the user’s mobile phone via Bluetooth technology.

Swatch is in talks with retailers on its payment system, Hayek said, without naming them. The device will enter the market in two to three months, he said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via Bloomberg

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