Smart watches are a huge technological leap over quartz and mechanical watches. In many ways, smart watches render traditional timepieces obsolete. But not in one important way. Not yet. But soon. It’s only a question of time. Here’s the challenge . . .
Smart watches look like smart watches. They project one vibe: nerd. Equally, Apple’s market domination creates a uniformity of design that obliterates consumers’ need for “individuality.” To use the correct marketing term, smart watches lack style.
The need to put a display screen on the owner’s wrist creates the obvious aesthetic limitations that keep them smart watches off the “cool” list. Some of that’s down to the case.
Apple’s rectangular case is completely generic, a.k.a., deadly dull. Round-cased smart watches like Fossil scratch a more traditional itch, but they’re oversized and almost as bland. G-SHOCK watches and their ilk have their own Transformersesque charm, but it’s a niche appeal you won’t see in too many offices.
The smart watch case problem is fixable. And it will be fixed to accommodate the smart watch’s secret weapon in the war on quartz and mechanical: infinitely interchangeable watch faces.
The number and variety of potential “faces” on a smart watch is literally unlimited. A smart watch face can look like anything, from an animated unfolding flower to a Rolex Daytona or Patek Philippe Aquanaut.
A convincing Daytona or Aquanaut? It’s getting closer. Check out the 3D Apple Watch “TAG Heuer” above (courtesy @jingwatch).
The aforementioned case design problem is one major impediment to the development of a true hybrid faux smart watch. Apple’s “walled garden” strategy prevents manufacturers from shoehorning an Apple Watch into anyone else’s case. (We don’t need no stinking dive watch bezels!)
But if Swiss, Japanese, German or especially American watchmakers could Apple Watch their timepieces, they would.
The forthcoming Apple Watch 5′ OLED screen enables even more convincing smart watch faux faces. But truly unassailable electronic simulacra awaits better technology.
The market pressure for a truly stylish smart watch is building, to the point where traditional watch makers are building their own hybrids. Breitling and Alpina are on the case (so to speak). To the point where I wonder why watchmakers haven’t done it already, EKG, sleep and fitness monitoring be damned.
Anyway, with or without Apple’s gigantic software catalogue and technical support, many if not most old school manufacturers will eventually ditch real-world watch faces for virtual faces. Multiple faces, at the touch of a button, or swipe of the screen.
During the rise and rise of the smart watch, the media has been quick to point to the mechanical watch industry’s ongoing indeed robust health, based as it is on brand snobbery and the joy of wearing an honest-to-god time machine.
Yes, well, smart watches are busy eating traditional watch market share for lunch. Once “wearables” manufacturers tap into the consumer’s desire for style and status, it’s only going to get worse for the established horological dynasties. Better? We shall see.