Baselworld has begun and we've got watch news up to our ears. Alongside more traditional watches, smartwatches and smart analogue watches are being announced and shown off at a feverish pace.
It's actually pretty wonderful, especially after a Mobile World Congress that didn't feature many new wearables. There was the Huawei Watch 2 and, well, that's it actually.
So, as we expected in #Trending a couple weeks ago, there's plenty of Android Wear 2.0 action now. More traditional watchmakers than ever before are getting comfortable in the Android water. There's Movado, Gc, Fossil and countless others now putting out smart timepieces, and there's no doubt that their newfound enthusiasm is good for smartwatches on the whole.
But, well, there's something else in that Swiss air too: a dedication to hybrids.
From Ted Baker and Mondaine to Samsung, hybrids are just as much of a presence at Baselworld as Android Wear-powered smartwatches. We had predicted that 2017 would be the rise of the designer brand hybrids, and, thus far, it looks like that's well on its way to becoming true.
So, who's making hybrids?
Other than Movado and Guess and a handful of other watchmakers who've previously dabbled in hybrids? Michael Kors, Tory Burch, DKNY, Ted Baker, Mondaine, Marc Jacobs, Alpina, Samsung.
Yes! Crazy right? To be fair, Samsung paired up with luxury designer Yvan Arpa to make them. There's a pocket watch that's analog on the outside and Tizen-powered on the inside, like a Gear S3, and there's an analog version of the S3 that has some smart features.
Whoa, okay. But they'll just keep them off to the side, right?
Well, maybe not. Today Michael Kors announced that every one of its new men's watches will have some kind of smart technology, starting fall this year. John D. Idol, CEO of Michael Kors, said that he believes hybrids are part of its future for men's styles.
What about women?
Well, we don't know yet. Idol only mentioned the men's styles, though Michael Kors has also announced hybrids for women, too.
Oh. Well, that sounds huge.
It is! When watchmakers start supplanting their "dumb" watches with hybrids that can do some of the basics, practically every new watch will be a wearable.
Some features, like fitness tracking, have become basic, standard features on a lot of smartwatches. When tech becomes that prevalent, the cost to make it drops, and it becomes even easier for traditional watchmakers to integrate it into their products.
That makes sense.
Right. Also, there isn't much of a reason for watchmakers not to include basic tracking in its regular watches. If anything, it gives people more of a reason to wear the watchmakers' watches and less of a reason to switch to a fitness tracker.
Keep it 100 though: Is this just traditional watchmakers not wanting to make the leap to full smartwatches?
Nope. This week also saw the launch of two high-profile Kickstarter campaigns for hybrids. Interestingly, both of them take the opposite approach to hybrids. Nowa is a French startup that wants to make a classically simple watch with some smart features, while MyKronoz is putting traditional, Swiss-made watch arms over a digital watch face. It's not as barmy as it sounds.
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