As wearable tech matures, designer collaborations are everywhere. Tech firms realise they don't have the credentials to make the kind of products people want to show off and fashion and watch companies can skip years of R&D.
From Swarovski to the new Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 and everyone in between, wearable technology is moving away from horrid black boxes and into luxurious designs. And as the tech gets smaller, these top designers can push the boundaries even further. Read on for our round-up of the best looking designer wearables money can buy.
Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket
The freshest entry on our list is also one of the most futuristic - Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket is the first piece of Project Jacquard smart clothing that we'll be able to actually buy.
Due to launch in 2017, the jacket is aimed at commuting cyclists and allows them to control music, maps and calls via interactive yarn in the sleeve and a detachable tag. It is, of course, the work of Google and we're expecting more Project Jacquard partnerships in athletics and enterprise.
Fossil Q & Michael Kors Access
Fossil is a great example of a fashion and lifestyle brand making moves to really own wearable tech. It bought Misfit. It's pledged to launch 100 wearables by the end of 2016. And at Baselworld it made a very strong start with the Q Marshal and Q Wander Android Wear offerings, four smart analogue watches and its Q Motion activity tracker.
Fossil's power also comes from the other brands in its stable. The Michael Kors Access Android Wear watch was also announced at Baselworld and wearables from Armani, Kate Spade, Diesel, Lacoste and more are on their way. Many of these devices will have identical specs and features but the devil will be in the details.
Tag Heuer Connected
Tag's first smartwatch was the biggest collaboration between a watchmaker and tech companies last year. The Tag Heuer Connected was the work of Google and Intel, running Android Wear alongside custom Tag watch faces. It puts time telling front and centre, the build quality is top notch and it's a luxury, comfortable fit. It's $1,500 and after two years you can exchange it for a mechanical Tag watch.
Read the test: Tag Heuer Connected review
Public School x Fitbit
OK, this is a line of accessories, not a wearable tech product. But Public School's upcoming collection of Fitbit Alta straps and accs is a good instance of wearable tech companies going for style and substance over big names. Public School is big in certain circles but its urban, minimalist pieces will no doubt convince the fashion set that a fitness tracker doesn't have to look tacky.
Wearable tech on runways and red carpets
- Met Gala: Six things we learned about fashion techThe dress code? Tech white tie
- MakeFashion 2016: The best fashion tech from the runwayWearable fashion where the focus is more on the style than the tech
- Fashion is still afraid to commit to wearable techWill the industry ever take its bit on the side seriously?
All the design work here was done by Swarovski's in-house designers. It's essentially a Misfit Shine activity tracker dominated by a large single Swarovski crystal, which has nine accessories to accompany it, from an attractive bracelet to blingy pendant. The best thing about the collaboration is that the design actually enables more tech features, and after the initial launch will be a solar powered version, which uses light refracted by the crystal to infinitely power the device.
Hands-on: Misfit Swarovski Shine review
The styling might not be for everyone but it's impressive how much the range blends in with dumb jewellery. Next up is more solar powered, stylish trackers coming by the end of 2016.
What do you do if you're a watch company that doesn't watch to mess with your beautiful mechanical timepieces? Put the smarts in the strap of course. The Montblanc e-Strap ships as an option on its forthcoming Montblanc Timewalker Urban Speed collection, but given its standard size, can be added to any watch for fitness tracking and notifications on the monochrome OLED screen.
Mondaine Helvetica No 1 Smart
Part of the Horological Smartwatch Open Platform, Mondaine's first smartwatch is a classic-looking Swiss watch which has MotionX fitness and sleep tracking tech inside. The watch itself is made from brushed steel, sapphire crystal and comes with a soft leather strap. It launched alongside other MotionX powered smartwatches from Frederique Constant and Alpina and at $950, it isn't cheap.
Read the test: Mondaine Helvetica 1 Smart review
Fitbit by Tory Burch
On its own the Fitbit Flex isn't the best looking wearable on the market, but fashion conscious females might be taken with the impressive accessories by fashion guru Tory Burch. She's designed a host of Fitbit accessories for every occasion, from blingy jewellery to stylish bands.
Burch launched the gorgeous Fret bracelet which adds a chic double-wrap leather band to the design with various colours of fretwork and leather available to choose from. And Tory Burch designed Fitbit Alta accessories are on the way too. Your Fitbit's never looked better.
One of the early tech/fashion partnerships was between Martian and Guess. Martian has been turning out some impressive smartwatch tech – see the Notifier for a prime example – yet it's struggled for exposure. If Guess watches are your bag, the Guess Connect smartwatch number is well worth checking out even though in our test there was a lot to disappoint in terms of reliability. We saw some new styles at MWC but we hope Martian is hard at work on version two.
Read the test: Guess Connect review
Polo Tech Shirt by Ralph Lauren
Shunning its propensity for preppy public-school types, the cunningly named Polo Tech Shirt from Ralph Lauren is the ultimate activity tracker. The US fashion house has woven sensors into the nylon that can track everything from heart rate to breathing patterns – which is being tested on the pro tennis circuit.