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Battle of the smarts

tag_heuerTag Heuer’s smartwatch approach

A traditional watch manufacturer founded in 1860, Swiss-based TAG Heuer is now part of the French luxury conglomerate LVMH.

Supported by Oracle, TAG Heuer developed a special edition of the Aquaracer Caliber 72 for the America’s Cup 2013. With this watch, the crew of the Oracle team had real time access to the boat’s speed, foil balance, sail pressure, and wind characteristics. Each watch was customised to the needs of the individual crew member.

Besides this, TAG Heuer has also introduced mobile phones under its brand. The latest model, to be launched in a limited edition in Summer 2014, is providing unlimited standby time based on recharging via solar power.

Shortly after the launch of the Apple Watch, LVMH’s head of the watch business Jean-Claude Biver announced that TAG Heuer is working on smartwatches. He reinforced this when he took over the post as interim CEO of TAG Heuer at the end of 2015.

Swatch’s smartwatch approach

Swatch, purveyor of inexpensive watches you buy on layovers, plans to release a smartwatch within the next three months that will connect to the internet without needing to be charged. That’s a revved-up idea. The new Swatch will be released roughly at the same time as the hotly anticipated Apple Watch, which reports suggest could have catastrophically terrible battery life.

Swatch confirmed its plans in an email to Gizmodo, but details on what this watch might look like or do are slim, except that it will be able to connect to the internet without a charge and that it’ll be compatible with both Android and Windows phones.

How exactly the watch will be able to connect to the internet without a charge isn’t clear, but I would be very surprised to see a self-winding watch like the Sistem51 Swatch launched last year. It seems more likely, that the forthcoming wristable will be powered by a watch battery that can run for a long period of time before being replaced.

Apple’s smartwatch approachapple_watch

Four years after the launch of the iPad, Apple has presented the Apple Watch. It will be launched in April 2015. Here are the most important characteristics:

  • Use cases: Apple focuses on three key use cases for the time being. First, it wants to make notifications simple and intuitive. Second – based on movement and heart rate sensors – the Apple Watch will have integrated apps for fitness and sports. Third, the product should become relevant for mobile payments. While these three use cases have been the focus of Apple so far, the company is encouraging developers to come up with apps for much more.
  • User interaction: There are various ways to interact with the Apple Watch: similar as competitive smart watches, it has a touch screen end enables voice interaction based on integrated microphone and speaker. Somewhat different is the button on the right, which can be turned in order to scroll, zoom, and do other desired functions.
  • Design: Clearly, this is the key differentiator from conventional smart watches seen so far. Apple integrated many learnings from the watch industry, and paid attention to details. Based on two form factors (38/42mm), different materials and elegant straps, Apple offers a convincing collection of 18 watch designs.

On the down side, the Apple Watch will only work in combination with iPhones, and presumably needs to be recharged daily.