The Smart Watch. Those couple of words can send shivers down the neck of certain “traditional” watch brand executives. Not so with Peter Stas of Frederique Constant. This well-known brand has not only accepted the Smart Watch concept, but also has fully embraced it — unveiling several new smart collections and even starting a separate “technology” division. This week, as we explore some of the newest Smart Watches on the market from so-called traditional watch brands, we take a close up look at Frederique Constant and sister-brand Alpina’s Horological Smartwatches. Here, Peter Stas of Frederique Constant Speaks Out about the Horological Smart Watch.
With smart watches, integrated tracking systems monitor personal fitness, give message alerts and do so much more than ever expected to be seen on the wrist. They do, however, guzzle energy — draining batteries at an all-time high speed. However, with the smart watches — quartz powered — developed by Frederique Constant and including a smart module, there is a bit more battery life.
Since the brand first unveiled its Horological Smartwatch in 2015, created in cooperation with American partners in Silicon Valley, classical time display sits side by side with connectivity and smarts. Additionally, the watches work with both Android and iOS operating systems. While those first-generation Horological Smartwatches had much to offer, the second-generation pieces offer more features and functions not yet found in other smart watches., including the ability to switch off or mute correspondence. Now, working with MMT Swiss Connect (a company developed by Frederique Constant), the brand enters the third-generation phase of hybrid smart watches.
Here, Peter C. Stas, founder, CEO and originator of the Frederique Constant Smartwatch initiative, talks about the real prospects for “smart” and traditional combined.
Q: What induced Frederique Constant to invest a lot of money in the Horological Smartwatch in 2014?
PS: “Back in 2010, the Frederique Constant Group started to research three smartwatch projects: a) the Alpina Mountain Watch; b) Android Wear; c) the Horological Smartwatch. We were intrigued by how it was possible to add smart features to simple quartz watches. We saw an opportunity to develop exciting connected watches with extensive information and graphics displayed on smartphones. Our company has innovation as one of its core values. It is only logical that we decided to invest a significant part of our R&D budget in connected watch technology. ”
Q: What are your predictions for this category?
PS: “The target group for Horological Smartwatches are businessmen and women who want more than to just be able to consult the time on their wrist. We predict that 30-40% of this Swiss Watch Industry production will turn to smart technology in the next three to five years. So, if we take the 21 million quartz watches produced today as a base, in 2020, six to eight million quartz watches produced in Switzerland will be smart. Some brands are already ahead in this new product category and investing heavily, others will still have to start or lose out on a major segment of the Swiss watch industry. Our Horological Smartwatches are priced €595-€1395 at retail (MRRP), so it’s the same price as typical chronograph quartz watches. However, Horological Smartwatches give plenty of information to aid self-improvement through features that can be individually adjusted, all for an exciting user experience well beyond an ‘old’ quartz watch.”
Q: How does design and the digital aspect play a role in your Horological Smartwatches?
PS: “Design is the primary strength of a Horological Smartwatch. We choose to create a smartwatch with a traditional watch dial and hands. Dials are finished with delicate patterns, applied indexes, galvanized colors. Hands are diamond cut. These design details ensure that Horological Smartwatches look like luxury Swiss watches. This has been an essential requirement for Frederique Constant, we do not believe that our customers are interested in wearing a smart watch with just a screen that is off most of the time, we do not believe in these ‘blank’ watches. Current models of Horological Smartwatches do not have digital display. Especially on classic watches, we feel that a display will not look good. We are, however, working hard on integration of a small digital display on future generations of Horological Smartwatches to give customers the option of having additional alphanumeric information on their watch. We believe that pure Horological Smartwatches and so called “Anadigit” smartwatches will live side-by-side. The range of different Horological Smartwatches will be increased to offer multiple designs, which we know is an important driver of success in the watch industry.”
Q: Are you still working with a US-based firm?PS: “In March 2016, the technology company behind the Horological Smartwatch decided to invest in a software team in Geneva. We felt that we needed a team of technology experts located close to the Swiss Watch Industry to be able to react fast to any developments. We have a highly capable team of firmware, iOS apps, Android apps and Cloud storage engineers located in Geneva, who exclusively work on Horological Smartwatches. This ensures rapid response, both for watchmaker training and for developing new Smartwatch functions.”