Wearable Tech World Feature Article
February 09, 2015

Swatch Readies Wearable Smartwatch, Squarely Targets Apple Watch

Swatch was easily one of the biggest names in wristwatch, particularly back in the 1980s and early 1990s. When it came time for a plan to be executed in Fox's “Parker Lewis Can't Lose” series, the call went out to “synchronize Swatches,” and immediately, three Swatch watches would shoot into frame, often with accompanying sound effects. But Swatch didn't fade away with the 1990s, and there are new plans reportedly afoot for a new wearable device from Swatch, a complete wearable smartwatch with online connectivity that's got Apple's Watch squarely in its sights.

The device in question doesn't yet have a name, at last report, but does have a target release date of sometime in the next three months. That puts it as far out as early May, which would be about a month after the slated release of the Apple Watch. The Swatch device, meanwhile, will run Android and Windows operating systems—making it about as clear a Watch competitor as possible—and offer up not only the standards of such devices, but also a complete structure from which to make mobile payments, matching the Watch on that front as well. While the mobile payments part of things isn't quite fleshed out as yet—right now, two major Swiss retailers are on board in Coop Cooperative and Migros—there are reports that suggest more are likely to follow as time goes on.

Perhaps one of the biggest things about the Swatch device, according to word from Swatch CEO Nick Hayek, is the sheer amount of recently-patented technology that's going to find its way into the system. Hayek reportedly noted that 2014 was a record year for patents at Swatch, and several devices in 2015 would in turn boast the new systems. While Hayek played just what developments would be on hand close to the vest, he did make note of one in which the device would be able to operate “...without having to be charged.”

That's a pretty big development right there, and makes for an interesting prospect. We've seen Apple pull some impressive stuff out of its hat and put such tools to work, but could it be that Swatch is planning to take on Apple in a straight-up tech battle? A battle of the innovations, so to speak? That would be a sight to see, and it also would defuse perhaps the biggest objection to the Swatch release. It's seldom a good idea to bring out a new product right around the time that Apple's bringing one out; after all, Apple tends to briefly own a market when a new product emerges. But if Swatch can genuinely offer points that Apple doesn't, then it may have a whole new case to make for coming out a month after Apple's release. Normally coming out that close to an Apple release all but ensures that the product will be buried under an avalanche of Apple interest, but spacing out the release with a clearly noteworthy technological package might be just what Swatch needs to get a piece of the market.

While only time will tell just what the Swatch release looks like, one thing is clear: we might well be looking at a destabilizing input into a market that was actually starting to look at least somewhat stagnant. In fact, we might be looking at an Apple Watch-killer in the making, and that would be some very big news in wearable tech.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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