First look: Sony Wena will please traditionalists looking for a touch of tech

IFA 2015: Hands on with Sony's latest crowdfunding crusade
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The Sony Wena smartwatch, launched earlier this week on the Japanese company's First Flight platform, was on show for the first time at IFA 2015 and Wareable was on hand to get up close and personal.

Sony has always had a quirky side. Whether it be mass producing robot dogs, clipping lenses on smartphones or splitting tablets into two, the Japanese giant certainly likes to keep the tech industry on its toes.

So, when it launched its own internal crowdfunding platform earlier this year – after secretly launching the FES e-paper watch last year – people's eyebrows only raised a millimetre or so.

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As part of the company's Seed Acceleration Program, employees' ideas are promoted by the new First Flight platform, with backers able to back, reserve and purchase devices.

The latest of which, the Sony Wena, is a traditional analogue wristwatch with smart tech built right into the straps. So far, that smart tech extends to three functions: notifications, activity tracking and e-payments.

The idea is that users can mix and match the watch faces they like, with the smart tech easily swappable between different models. Sony had four different Wena variations on show in Berlin, we took a close look at all of them.

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The faces (or "heads" as Sony calls them) have been designed in collaboration with traditional Japanese watch powerhouse Citizen, and it shows. Both the basic Three Hands model and its more expensive Chronograph brethren – with its multiple buttons and dials – look and feel the part.

Heavy watch fans will be pleased to know there's plenty of weight with the Wena watches – they are made out of 316L stainless steel with the watch heads tipping the scales at 55 to 72.5g.

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The hefty weight is also because the bands pack plenty of tech – they are almost 80g on their own. There's an NFC chip that supports the Japanese contactless payment standard FeliCa, a plethora of activity tracking sensors and a customisable seven-colour LED light and vibrations motor for notifications.

The watch battery will run for three to five years. The band, however, will need charging every week. The crowdfunding campaign has obliterated its goal and Sony plans to launch Wena exclusively in Japan starting March 2016.

A spokesman at IFA told Wareable that a wider launch is a possibility for 2016, so watch this space. We'd certainly slap one on our wrist should they reach the western world.

TAGGED Smartwatches

Paul Lamkin

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Wareable Media Group co-CEO Paul launched Wareable with James Stables in 2014, after working for a variety of the UK's biggest and best consumer tech publications including Pocket-lint, Forbes, Electric Pig, Tech Digest, What Laptop, T3 and has been a judge for the TechRadar Awards

Prior to founding Wareable, and subsequently The Ambient, he was the senior editor of MSN Tech and has written for a range of publications.

Paul is a self-confessed geek and has been accused of being both an Apple 'fanboy' and a Google 'fandroid' - so at least you know that his bias is balanced. Paul, along with James Stables, turned Wareable into the Wareable Media Group when they launched sister site The Ambient, back in January 2018. In mid-2019 they added a third site to the portfolio when Get Sweat Go was launched.

You can read an interview with Paul for Gorkana's Meet the Journalist feature, and Response Source.


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