Swatch to make its watches smarter from May

The world’s leading watch manufacturer, Swatch, has confirmed that it will be imbuing future devices with smartwatch features.

Just last year, Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek had dismissed the smartwatch fad for its perceived weaknesses (including poor design and weak battery life). However, recent rumour suggested that the company was about to perform an about-turn.

Sure enough, Hayek has confirmed that his company is to integrate certain smartwatch components across its various brands (including the likes of Omega and Breguet) starting from May.

Specifically, future Swatch watches will include near-field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth technology.

The former will enable the wearer to make mobile payments from their wrist at compatible registers, as well as to gain access to hotel rooms. The latter will enable the watches to hook up to smartphones for simple notifications.

That, however, is it for smart features in the forthcoming Swatch line. “We are not a consumer technology company,” said Hayek. “We don’t want to produce a reduced, minimised mobile phone on your wrist.”

This cautious approach to implementing smart features will mean that you won’t have to charge your Swatch watch up at the end of every day – one of the key issues with the likes of the Apple Watch and any Android Wear watch.

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Swatch’s announcement is well timed. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas reckons that the forthcoming Apple Watch could swallow up as much as 10 percent of the Swiss brand’s entry-level watch sales, and 5 percent of the sales of its mid-range brands, like Tissot and Mido.

Swatch may not like smartwatches then, but it clearly needs to get smarter if its to survive.

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