For some time now, there has been a significant divide in the wearables sector between luxury watches and smartwatches. Most consumers who enjoy wearing luxury watches have been unable to take advantage of smart functions on smartwatches such as paying for a coffee on the go with a simple tap of their wrist. However, this will change thanks to newly developed technology which will allow luxury watches, like Rolex, to behave like a smartwatch.
Before the pandemic struck, 14 million smartwatches were sold globally this year in the first quarter, which demonstrates a clear and continued hunger for wearable technology. Although this is great news for tech giants like Apple, who outsold the entire Swiss watch industry, their designs have low appeal for the more eloquent, super-rich clientele, who have a keen preference for traditional looking timepieces.
Several brands offer hybrid versions of their watches, such as Breitling, combining smart technology with traditional analogue dials. The hybrid watch at large works with a mix of mechanical movements and Bluetooth functionality. TAG Heuer’s connected range of watches also has functionality which lets users replicate the look of their conventional signature watches by allowing them to choose the design on the watches OLED screen. However, in most cases, many of these hybrid watches rely on being linked to a smartphone.
After a long 15 years in the making, consumers will now be able to enjoy a traditional watch which can be used independently for contactless payments. A new watch by MuchBetter Winwatch looks like a conventional analogue watch and is based on a standard model from Swiss Military Chrono. However, hidden inside the sapphire crystal glass are very minute antennas and microprocessors that allow the watch to carry out secure payments up to the value of £45. The payment technology is cleverly sealed inside the glass of the watch. A notch protects the chip itself, and the antenna is concealed smartly by a silver coating which sits around the rim.
One of the most significant issues that designers worked on overcoming when developing something that will work was trying to find something will work with NFC. Swatch created a watch which allowed contactless payment. However, their mechanics were housed in plastic which didn’t appeal to the target audience. Metal acts as a Faraday Sheild which works against the elements of an electromagnetic field which NFC is based on, for this reason, it distorts the signal and prevents the microchip from being read accurately.
For this technology to be successful, Winwatch collaborated with the world second largest producer of payment chips, Infineon. Together, Winwatch was able to patent 12 features that enable the STISS crystal to function with a mental watch. By doing so, they have opened up the possibilities for the system to be used and adopted by high-end manufacturers. By doing so, they have created tremendous potential for the glass technology to be also adopted onto older, existing watches.
The hope is that high-end manufacturers such as Rolex see and adopt the potential of this new technology, transforming luxury watches as we move forward to an increasingly connected world. This means more modern, and older vintage watches could make a huge comeback. This is also a relatively revolutionising move for the luxury watch industry, which, in comparison to the smartwatch industry, is suffering significantly.
The development of the new glass could also potentially be opening the door for a new type of watch, one which may present itself to be an analogue watch. Still, it can carry out many more different functions, just like a smartwatch.
Info about Writer – Yasmita Kumar – I am a writer and have been writing about various topics over many years now. I enjoy writing about my hobbies which include technology and its impact on our everyday life. Professionally I write about Technology, Finance and Health and previously worked for the NHS.