Back to the future

Smartwatches go for a classic look to hide their geekiness 

By Abhijit Mitra
  • Published 17.12.17

In September 2017, Apple Inc claimed that Apple Watch, the first version of which was introduced just three years ago, had become the highest selling watch in the world, with sales growing to one-and-a-half times that of the previous year’s. Apple also projected that it would sell 41 million pieces over the next year — a big jump again. Horace Dediu, analyst and one of the most respected Apple watchers, wrote Apple’s smartwatch revenues had crossed that of Rolex and was still growing very strongly.

The success of Apple’s watch as well as that of other smartwatches such as the Samsung Gear, now into its third version, the S3, is pushing many watch and luxury brands to bring out timepieces that incorporate smart features in varying degrees. But one thing that the traditionals are trying not to lose is the look of their watches so that they are never out of place peeking out from under the cuffs of a dress shirt.

Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch

This one hides its ‘smart’ness very effectively in its polished 42mm stainless steel body that comes on an elegant leather strap. One has to look closely to figure that what looks like a sub-seconds dial is actually a combination of the date and sleep (hand points to the moon mark) indicators on the inner ring. The outer one shows how much of one’s activity or sleep goal one has met. The watch is compatible with iPhones and Android. In true timepiece tradition there is no screen on this watch (the information can be seen on the paired phone) but a real analogue display.

Rs 65,370

Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon

With its hefty price tag, this one is costlier than most, particularly considering that it comes with a stainless steel case. But it is one of the most distinctive smartwatches that plays the luxury card to the hilt. The 390x390 AMOLED touchscreen is surrounded by a 24-hour ring that shows the time anywhere in the world. Its My Flight function keeps track of flight boarding timings. At 42mm, it’s not too big and the dial can be customised from a variety of LV watch faces. No, you just cannot overlook this one.

$2,900 (Rs 1.87 lakh approx.)

Emporio Armani Connected

With its black steel case and the usual complement of pushers and crown like a traditional chronometer, this watch gives little indication of its electronic innards till the screen lights up. That’s when it shows itself to be a modern-day wearable that is compatible with both iOS and Android phones. So messages and notifications are delivered directly to the watch that allows the entire look to be customised, from the faces to the straps. It lets users connect to their favourite apps, track activity and access their music library. The black bracelet is easily interchangeable with a variety of straps.

$395 (Rs 25,000 approx.)

Movado Connect

This is signature Movado with its edge-to-edge Gorilla glass and round digital dial. The 46.5mm watch runs on Android Wear and is compatible with both Android and iOS. It can display over 100 dial variations (whew!) on its 400x400 AMOLED screen. There are the usual notifications — for email, text and social media — and one can play music through it. Additionally, it is also enabled for Near Field Communication (NFC) and is equipped with Google Assistant and Google Fit. Movado says this is a unisex watch, but it is probably too big for most women’s wrists.

$895 (Rs 56,000 approx.)

Hugo Boss Touch

How sporty, traditional or geeky you want this watch to look will depend entirely on you. The case is like that of any analogue watch with even the crown in the right place. Available with polished stainless steel- or black-finish case, it has a number of dial options and is compatible with Android Wear apps. It can be set to give reminders, show messages, track activity levels apart from the usual time and date functions. It also shows battery levels. This 46mm watch is sold with leather and silicone straps.

$395 (Rs 25,000 approx.)

Montblanc Summit

The design of the Summit is inspired by Montblanc’s 1858 collection and looks almost vintage. Some of the dial options, too, are intended to give that impression. Under the hood, however, it has the latest technologies. The 46mm black PVD-coated stainless steel case has a satin finish and a sapphire crystal covers the 400x400 AMOLED screen with multi-touch recognition. Powered by Android Wear, it is compatible with iPhones and Android phones. Easily interchangable straps and watch faces let the wearer personalise the look. Naturally, it comes with the usual complement of smartphone features.

Rs 66,000