Smart watches make inroads with luxury timepiece brands

The Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication and an Apple Watch
The Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication and an Apple Watch

Tech fans are practically foaming at the mouth for the new Apple Watch. But does the rise of wearable technology portend the end for luxury watchmakers, as some have speculated? “No way,” say high-end brands such as LVMH Group, Swatch, Rolex and Richard Mille.

Nevertheless, many luxury brands are adapting to the new market for smart watches, according to Fortune.

Smart watches are already a $7 million a year market, with Apple Watches selling for between $349 and $17,000 a piece. Still, luxury brands remain strong and are seeing record sales, and now they are responding to the changing marketplace with diverse hybrid models, boasting a mix of digital and analog features. Some are even developing their very own smart watches.

Montblanc has added technology to the watch band, allowing it to displays emails, control the music in the user’s phone, and a “selfie-enabling trigger” for the user’s phone. The “e-strap” costs $390 and pairs with Montblanc’s TimeWalker watches, which range from $3,700 to $5,800.

And Frederique Constant and Alpina are developing an Horological Smartwatch powered by MotionX that monitors sleep and syncs with smartphones. Still, they are holding onto tradition: the watch doesn’t have a digital screen, and doesn’t require charging.

“I applaud them for participating in the world of wearables, but I don’t really see where their angle is, because there’s nothing they’re going to do that will allow them to compete with Google, Apple, Samsung,” Ariel Adams, editor in chief of the horological site A Blog to Watch, told Fortune. “Savvy consumers are going to be able to tell what is good and what is not.” – Christopher Cameron

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