The smartwatch has been around for a few years now, and it has caused a bit of trembling within the watch industry. Unlike the quartz revolution of some 50 years ago, watchmakers don’t seen overly concerned right now that the smartwatch will put them out of business.
It’s the smartwatch industry that seems to have a problem right now – finding buyers who like watches. They’ve already established their credentials among the geeks and fanboys who already buy any “smart” gadget that comes along. The problem is that they cannot persuade people who are actually fans of wristwatches, and more particularly, fans of mechanical wristwatches, to come aboard and join the parade.
The truth is that it’s unlikely to happen. People who collect watches realize that they can get more accurate time from a $20 Chinese-made quartz watch than they can from their Audemars Piguet. The fact is that the Audemars is going to keep time that is accurate enough, while showing off the creativity and engineering prowess that they admire and which cannot be found in a bargain-basement quartz watch.
Many watch collectors view smartwatches as nothing more than dressed-up cheap quartz watches, and they simply cannot get excited about them.
What the smartwatch community needs to do is find another way to reach those millions of potential customers, and an interesting article that we found the other day suggests an interesting alternative – the smart watch strap.
While many watches have metal bracelets that are fixed, a lot of watches have interchangeable straps that can be replaced to suit the owner. If the strap is leather, you’re likely to have to replace it from time to time, anyway, as leather straps do wear out with repeated wear.
A smart strap could use many of the same features that a smartwatch does, but would instead incorporate them into a strap that could be added to nearly any brand of watch, including some very expensive mechanical models.
Obviously, some care would have to be taken in order to make the strap attractive and allow it to blend in with the watch itself. You’re not going to put on your very expensive and elegant looking Oris with a bright green plastic smart strap. Makers could likely make them look like leather straps so that they wouldn’t draw attention to themselves.
So far, there hasn’t been a lot of action in this field, but one company is already marketing a “smart buckle” that will allow you to keep track of fitness statistics while wearing the strap of your choice. It’s a good start.
Eventually, some sort of standard will probably be developed so that the Android and iOS developers can come up with a functional and attractive solution that will allow anyone to turn any kind of watch into a smart one without having to give up their mechanical movement or elaborate complications.
These things take time, but money is a big motivator. The smartwatch manufacturers know that there is a large group of potential buyers who are simply not going to buy a smartwatch, now or ever. The sooner they figure out a way to tap into that market, the sooner they’ll start making big money.