Pre-SIHH, Montblanc seems to be the first watchmaking concern to introduce ‘smartwatch’ functionality via what it dubs the ‘the timewalker urban speed e-strap’,
The device is what Montblanc calls ‘a smart accessory that transforms analog timepieces into smartwatches’. Conceived as a fitness tracker, the OLED black/white touch display unit is capable of measuring steps, calories burnt and distance with detailed analysis of personal progress within a built-in app. The ‘timewalker urban speed e-strap’ comes in a DLC finish, syncs with both android and iOS platforms and allows the user to receive smart notifications from text messages, e-mails, incoming calls, calendar events activity reminders and social media feeds.
The module reminds me of the now long-in-the-tooth Samsung Gear Fit, and it wouldn’t surprise me that Montblanc has leveraged its longstanding Samsung relationship to provide the tech and manufacturing know-how behind this. (think the Note 4 and those lovely Montblanc phone covers and stylii). The module is available separately at US$300.
While Montblanc should be lauded in an effort to help bridge the impending gulf between mechanical watches and smart watches, leveraging electronics in a watch buckle is perhaps the too obvious solution to protecting its turf while appealing to the smart watch buying crowd – and perhaps it sees them as their current and future market demographic.
Is leveraging buckles the right way to go in the move towards ‘smarts’? I think that’s just trying too hard. There will always be a place for the mechanical, just as there is a place for the smart watch. I for one will be double wristing my Cabestan with the Apple Watch (in my favourite rose gold of course). But i suspect that I may get bored of the smart watch after some time, and choose the more traditional and emotional option. Because at the end of the day, mechanical watches are souls with a beating heart. The rest have Duracells.
What do you think?