Switzerland and Silicon Valley married last Thursday night, with a new joint venture that aims to lead the Swiss timepiece industry into the smartwatch future.
A San Francisco press event heralded the Swiss watch industry’s decidedly un-Swiss-watch-like news: the first-ever Swiss-made smartwatch and the MotionX Horological Smartwatch Open Platform.
Both the platform and the Swiss Horological Smartwatch are courtesy of newly formed Manufacture Modules Technologies (MMT), which is a collaborative Geneva-based SARL formed by Fullpower Technologies of Silicon Valley and Union Horlogère Holding. MMT aims to bring the MotionX platform from Fullpower, complete with two-way communication with iPhone and Android apps, to the Swiss watch industry by way of the MotionX Horological Smartwatch Open Platform. While Fullpower—which has created wearables solutions for Nike—manages the technology via smartphone applications and cloud infrastructure, MMT will oversee Swiss watch movement production and licensing and support for the Swiss watch industry.
Frédérique Constant’s Peter Stas and Fullpower’s Philippe Kahn spearheaded the efforts, with Stas telling JCK that the project was three years in the making.
“We wanted to maintain the DNA of our brand and combine it with technology,” Stas explained.
The moves aim to unify Swiss watchmakers through licensing of the platform, permitting the use of the latest technology in the beautifully crafted timepieces for which the industry is known. Stas also wants to compete with the millions of quartz watches sold annually. “We’re paving the way [for Swiss watchmakers] and the rest will follow,” he added.
Swiss firms Alpina, a sports watchmaker, and Mondaine, known for its SBB Swiss Railway watches, are also initial partners, both unveiling their own unique smartwatch SKUs using the platform technology. The standout for all 15 new models (several from each brand) for women and men: None has a digital face. Other Swiss Horological Smartwatch features include a two-year battery life, MotionX Activity Tracking, Sleeptracker Sleep Monitoring, Sleep Cycle Alarms, and Get Active Alerts, among others.
Models will ship in early June, and at press time—due to two international press events and media embargos—no retailers had yet placed orders. However, merchants at the event with whom JCK spoke were enthusiastic about the watches for their analog looks, noting that the digital screens of existing smartwatches were not always an easy sell.
Sales manager Daniel Lee of Tourneau Time Dome in Las Vegas called the new models “promising.” Suggested retail prices for models across all three firms will range from $250 to $1,000, sums that parallel quartz numbers.