Tag Heuer developing luxury smartwatch with Google, Intel

Pocketwatch
(Image: Stockfresh)

Timepiece will be powered by Android Wear

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19 March 2015 | 0

Most of the smartwatches we’ve seen so far have come from technology companies, but Swiss watchmakers are joining the game.

The latest is Tag Heuer, which announced it’s developing a luxury smartwatch with Intel and Google. The watch will ship this year and run Google’s Android Wear OS.

Other details, such as pricing, weren’t immediately available. Android Wear watches from Lenovo, Asus, Sony and Samsung are cheaper than the upcoming Apple Watch, which starts at $349 but will sell for up to $17,000.

For decades, Swiss watches have been revered for their precision and craftsmanship. Rolex has resisted the smartwatch game so far, but Tag Heuer and Swatch are introducing products without abandoning their mechanical roots.

It’s still not clear how much of an appetite there is for smartwatches. Gartner has said they’ll account for 40% of consumer wrist-worn devices by 2016.

Swiss manufacturers will try to make headway by trading off their respected brands, said Matthew Bain, founder of Matthew Bain Inc., a fine-watch collecting company.

“I think it will be hard to compete with the technology of Apple,” he said.

Smartwatches are multifaceted instruments for more than just telling time. They send reminders, collect health information, browse the Web, and notify users of text messages, phone calls and Facebook posts.

While Silicon Valley companies have focused on technology, Swiss manufacturers can use their brands and craftsmanship to make smartwatches more alluring.

Success depends on a good design and a good brand as much as on functionality, said Mike Bell, general manager at Intel’s New Devices Group, in a recent interview.

“As more traditional watch brands come out with smartwatches, you’ll see acceptance because it’s going to be an extension of a brand that people already like, as opposed to a computer company saying ‘hey, I took a cell phone and taped it to my wrist and it’s a smartwatch’,” Bell said.

Agam Shah, IDG News Service

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