Coach, guide, bodyguard.
Valuable helpers. Electronic watches on the wrist? Even among lovers of mechanical works, this is no longer a question of faith - but one of the right opportunities.
When the first Smartwatches appeared a few years ago and the early adopters queued up for them, they were not considered an enrichment but a threat to the weakening watch industry. After all, snakes did not form at the jeweller's, but in the consumer electronics store.
Because there was only one free space on the wrist, many a watchmaker raised a cultural battle like weiland against the first inexpensive quartz watches: Here the true, the beautiful, the good, there the superfluous electronic scrap, an identification of childish playfulness and above all: testimony of bad taste.
That breakup didn't last long.
Large lifestyle brands transfer the iconic design of their conventional timepieces to smart watches, former gadget producers have understood how the market for high-quality watches works and what buyers really value. Their products have long since been on display in the shop windows of jewellers alongside high-tech from traditional Swiss companies, which incorporate a great deal of watchmaking know-how. The first hybrid models now even want to reconcile the mechanical with the digital world.
And because the brands develop their own technical and creative profile, their Smartwatches no longer just signal "Look, fully connected!", but, depending on the style, an exclusive hobby or outdoor adventure. In fact, electronic watches are constantly taking on new practical tasks for people who are far away from the office and/or have no hand free for a briefcase. Some can even help, quasi dialectically, to dispense with digital media.
Alpina started years ago to equip watches with sensors and complicated electronics that are not visible at first glance in analogue timepieces. The main topic of the "Horological Smartwatches" is the measurement of activity and fitness values. The expressive "Alpiner X" (895 Euro) is the robust outdoor version with chronograph, compass, altimeter - and a real novelty: the first UV light sensor and warner in a Smartwatch. This makes the "Alpiner X" the first choice on the beach, especially as it can be ordered in one of 3000 colour combinations to match the swimwear.
In developing its Smartwatch hardware, TAG Heuer has focused entirely on Swissness and individualisation. The buyer assembles his personal watch, cases, lugs and straps are offered in a variety of materials and colors. While the first "Connected Modular" still had a diameter of 45 millimetres, with which it only fitted to strong wrists, there is now also a variant with 41 millimetres (depending on the equipment between 1100 and 2650 euros). This offers a larger working memory - and still the possibility of using a mechanical module instead of the electronic one.
Louis Vuitton gathers his core competencies in his Tambour-Smartwatch. For some years now, the company has been switching on mechanical specialities, regatta chronographs or a graphically outstanding world time clock in the unusually shaped cases. The "Tambour Horizon" can not only simulate these timepieces on its display, but is also dedicated to the main historical theme of Louis Vuitton: travelling. The software manages upcoming flights, guides you through important metropolises in style - and of course the display can be labelled just as individually as your own iconic luggage (TB Horizon Black: 2800 Euro, TB Horizon Monogram: 2300 Euro, TB Horizon Graphite: 2300 Euro).
Casio has clear principles in the development of its outdoor watches: Energy independence is part of true wilderness suitability, and the watch must be able to be entertained with solar power. But because GPS reception consumes a great deal of power, those who did not want to do without satellite navigation (and who wants to?) had to take their mobile phones with them, from which Casio then took over the position data. Now the phone (including the annoying calls and short messages) can stay in the hotel, mountain hut or boathouse: The GPR-B1000 "Rangeman" (799 Euro) provides the sunlight for GPS orientation - and the display of the safe way home.
Garmin built GPS receivers for professional use on land and at sea. With its sports watches, the company also addresses those who are serious about their hobby and are looking to improve themselves with scientific meticulousness. The latest Golffuhr is simply called "S10" (159.99 Euro), comes quite discreetly, but offers comprehensive support on the course, knows thousands of courses, determines the exact position and measures range. It then becomes a powerful trainer duo with Garmin's first super-precise laser rangefinder, the S80 (649.99 Euro), whose functions cannot be integrated into any Smartwatch. No, not yet.
Breitling traditionally provides pilots with interesting toolwatches. In addition to the mechanical classics, this has included some electronic chronographs networked with the smartphone for years. The latest model, the "Exospace B55 Yachting" (6800 Euro), is now aimed at a new target group. It has been tailored to the needs of regatta sailors with extensive countdown functions. The instrument emits optical, acoustic and vibration signals so that they do not go unnoticed in the noisy bustle at the starting line. Of course, the mobile phone remains on land, but it is used for programming before the regatta and afterwards for evaluating the race.
Author: Jan Lehmhaus