​Baselworld 2015: The year of the smartwatch

How wearable tech has infiltrated the most traditional watch show on earth
​Baselworld: Year of the smartwatch

Walking the halls of Baselworld 2015, something was different this year. Here in the epicentre of classic watchmaking, wearable technology was on people's lips for the first time.

Essential reading: Best smartwatch 2015

At Baselworld 2014 things couldn't have been more different. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd accept that smartwatches even existed, let alone worthy of a place within the most prestigious of watch shows, where industry types rub shoulders with the super rich against a backdrop of opulence and exclusivity.

Fast-forward just 12 months, and everything had changed.

When you walk into Hall 1, described by a colleague as the Premier League of watchmaking brands, the transition was most poignant. Tag Heuer, with its enormous booth dominating the entrance way, hung a banner displaying the logos of Intel and Google.

Like a medieval decapitated head on the battlements, displayed as a warning to others, the presence of the two tech giants cast a shadow onto all who walked into the show.

It's no secret that the watch industry remembers the digital boom of the 1980s. While it weathered the storm eventually, it lost a chunk of its market to the likes of Casio – and as Alexandra King, UK marketing manager for Tag told Wareable, it doesn't want to be left behind again.

"No-one really knows where this is going to go, but we want in on the ground floor," she said.

Tag's not the only one to keep an open mind about smart tech. From Mondaine to Frederique Constant, classic watchmaking was blending with technology at every turn.

The wearable tech industry is still moving at a ferocious pace, and it's anyone's guess where smartwatches will be come Baselworld 2016. In the meantime, however, here are all the big players from this year.

Tag Heuer

The big story of Baselworld, Tag is going to make an Android Wear smartwatch, with tech provided by Intel. It's destined to arrive by the end of 2015, but details are scarce – however, Wareable was told that the tech elements could be swappable, to prevent obsolescence of what's guaranteed to be a costly purchase.

Read more: Tag Heuer smartwatch guide

Mondaine Horological Smartwatch

One of a trio of watchmakers packing fitness tracking tech inside Swiss watchers, the Helvetica No. 1 uses MotionX technology built inside. The tech is the result of the Manufacture Modules Technologies (MMT) partnership, an agreement between Swiss watch-makers and Silicon Valley. A second dial that shows the progress towards your daily activity goal – in no way copying the excellent Withings Activité.

Frederique Constant smartwatch

As above with the Mondaine, but with added style, the Fredrique Constant is another signatory of the MMT agreement. While Mondaine brings the fonts, Fredrique Constant brings the bling, with a beautifully designed watch face that screams quality.

Alpina Horological Smartwatch

Making up the trio of Horological Smartwatches from MMT, the Alpina again uses MotionX to track your sleep and steps, as well as calories and all the usual fitness tracking gubbins.

Gucci/Will.i.am

Another introduction into smart tech, Gucci has teamed up with Will.i.am to release a co-branded Puls cuff. Like Will's original Puls band, it's designed to work without a smartphone attached, and seems to have been given a Gucci makeover to boot.

Vector Luna smartwatch

While not affiliated with the show, new brand Vector used the backdrop of Baselworld to unveil its smartwatch. High-end design and 30 days of battery life make it an appealing proposition, but with a custom OS, it remains to be seen if it can compete with Apple and Google.

Hands on: Vector smartwatch review

Kairos MSW/SSW

Finally shipping after lengthy delays, the Kairos SSW/MSW smartwatches made an appearance at Baselworld at long last. A dizzying array of options means there's over 90 combinations of tech to choose from, none of which are perfect. However, it's clear that Kairos' ambitious tech has bags of potential.

Hands on: Kairos MSW/SSW smartwatch review

Breitling B55

Not exactly bulging with tech, the Brietling B55 will sync with a smartphone app to enable you to tweak settings and set alarms with ease.

Bulgari Diagono Magnesium

NFC built inside this smartwatch will enable users to make payments from their wrist, although the company has forgone smarter additions such as activity tracking or notifications.


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