How Apple and Tag Heuer are taking modularity to a new level

Lucrin boss says smartwatches help people express themselves
Modularity key to Apple Watch success
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The changes smartwatches have heralded aren't just about screens, apps, tech and notifications. Customisation and the ability to express yourself via your wrist watch has also been given a rethink. But beyond being able to quickly swap a watch face or dial to match your outfit, daily schedule or lifestyle, brands are now talking up modularity as the smartwatch's killer app.

Modularity means the ability to swap out parts of your watch, to upgrade it technically or visually. In the past that's been a necessity in tech products to counter obsolescence, but increasingly in the smartwatch world, it also means upgrading the look of your smartwatch.

Mehdi Chaker, CEO of Lucrin, a Swiss brand which has been making leather straps for 25 years, believes that smartwatch leaders such as Apple and Tag Heuer are changing what wristwear means to them.

How Apple and Tag Heuer are taking modularity to a new level

"It's true that several brands are now taking modularity to a new level. We see Tag with its new proposition the Modular 45, which offers consumers 56 different versions. This allows for extreme customisation to happen," he said.

And that extreme customisation compliments the extra features and functionality that smartwatches allow. Mehdi believes that in the past people would own several watches for different occasions, but in 2017, one smartwatch can do the job, thanks to this extra modularity.

"In the past it would be normal to own several watches, for sport, for special occasions, for everyday use, one that measured altitude another that was super precise. It's making modularity a key strategy in hardware and software design."

How Apple and Tag Heuer are taking modularity to a new level

But building for modularity and customisation isn't easy. You need to create a good-looking device that can work with a host of different straps/bodies, which more than often you can't control.

"What Apple has managed to do is to create a design that actually looks good in different straps or bands. A watch that completely changes its personality through straps," Mehdi said.

His company Lucrin was founded in Geneva Switzerland 25 years ago, and specialises in leather products. Over the years it has established three in-house manufacturing facilities to create, among a host of other items, watch straps.

How Apple and Tag Heuer are taking modularity to a new level

"Being a Geneva based company, we have been making straps for traditional watches and luxury brands. In terms of materials, for all of our products, we source only the best possible leathers from preferred tanners that follow strict quality guidelines, we also have preferred suppliers for our metal parts that are then combined by our leathersmiths with great deal of detail."

And thanks to the fact that the Apple Watch is so versatile, Mehdi says that Lucrin has been able to offer a mind-boggling choice of straps.

"We offer over 1,000 different choices for the Apple Watch in three different leathers, giving consumers even the ability to choose the colour of the thread."

People can't let their smart watch functionality go

Mehdi believes that the days of changing your watch for different occasions are gone, and that's because once smartwatch features have got under people's skin, it's hard for them to give them up.

"When you buy a watch that's under $1,000, for example, you might be more inclined to require flexibility from that watch. When you buy into an expensive traditional there's less desire to change what you have craved for so long," Mehdi said.

How Apple and Tag Heuer are taking modularity to a new level

"As consumers get accustomed to the smart watch functionalities it will become harder to let go of them. The convenient way around this is to allow consumers to change the aspect of the watch without changing the watch itself," he continued.

As smartwatches grow, led by the Apple Watch and closely followed by the likes of Movado, Tag, Fossil and others, customisation, modularity choice will become even more crucial.

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