Even though everyone in the tech industry is talking about wearables, there are a few things that have kept them from really catching on with consumers.
They’re expensive, the battery life doesn’t last very long, and they’re often bigger and bulkier than any non-tech device you’d usually wear on your wrist.
Luxury watchmaker Montblanc is trying to solve at least one of those problems with a new approach we haven’t seen major tech companies adopt yet.
The idea is that the watch would look exactly like a mechanical watch while you’re wearing it, but you’d be able to flip your wrist to see a small screen that’s embedded into the band. Called the e-Strap band, the wristband can deliver notifications and syncs with an app to display basic health data like step tracking.
It’s being marketed as a smart strap for the company’s existing watches, which would prevent the company’s current customers from ditching their Montblanc watch for an Apple Watch or Android Wear device. The strap will also come installed on some of Montblanc’s upcoming Timewalker Urban Speed watches.
It doesn’t come with advanced health-related sensors like the Apple Watch, Moto 360, and fitness trackers, but it will be able to at least tell you how many steps you’ve taken during the day. As is the case with most smartwatches, it will connect to your phone via Bluetooth and you’ll be able to control music playing through your phone with the watch strap.
The strap itself is made of high-end leather that has a carbon fibre texture, as A Blog To Watch described it, and is made in Florence, Italy. It will likely come in different colours, too.
Based on Montblanc’s renders, it looks like the tiny screen blends nicely with the watch strap, but it’s unclear exactly how attractive the watch will be until we see it in person. There’s a chance it will look a bit larger or bulkier when it’s on your wrist than the renders show.
Something similar happened with Motorola’s Moto 360. When the the watch was announced, generated some buzz since it was among the first smartwatches to come with a round touchscreen display. It’s still one of the best-looking smartwatches out there, but we couldn’t tell how thick it was and how large it looked when wearing it until our review unit arrived.
It also seems a bit expensive for something that’s being sold as an accessory. Based on the product’s description, it sounds like it does less than today’s current smartwatches but costs more.
Regardless of how the e-Strap looks and feels, it seems like it’s designed to appeal more to watch lovers than techies, which is a notable difference from what’s available today. It also shows that mechanical watch makers are looking to compete with companies like Apple to stay relevant.