Where there are watches, luxury usually isn't too far behind. But for the most part, while traditional touchscreen smartwatches will still make a dent in your back pocket, you also won't be left remortgaging your house in order to pick one up.
As we've seen recently, though, more and more high-end wearable devices are flooding the space. But is this a sign of things to come or simply a wave of designer brands trying to keep up with an area that presents something new? Well, let's explore.
What's the latest?
This week saw another Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch join the mix, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon — a move which also represented the designer's first dip into the smartwatch scene. It joins the likes of Tag Heuer, who earlier this year released its Connected Modular 45 device for Android Wear, and the Montblanc Summit, a luxury watch we've spent the last few weeks with.
Just how much are these smartwatches?
Make sure you're sat down first. While the likes of Apple and Samsung will see you hand over roughly $300/$400 for their latest wares, entry into the latest round of Tag Heuer smartwatches starts at $1,400 and rises all the way to $6,600, for those who enjoy diamonds around the bezel.
Louis Vuitton's isn't playing around, either. The Tambour Horizon, which is, besides the dazzling touchscreen, a carbon copy of its dumb sibling, will cost between $2,400 and $2,600. Montblanc, in comparison, is slightly less expensive, with the Summit starting at $890, but this is still a lot to shell out.
Should tech companies be worried?
In short, no. The fact is, no matter how many designer brands enter the fore, not everyone out there can afford to bask in luxury smartwatches — especially given the fact that this is an area which changes from year to year.
This evolution is also true for cheaper smartwatches, of course, but people are more likely to to upgrade their Apple Watch or Garmin due to a new set of sensors in store.
The draw on luxury watches is the brand name, the polish of materials and details and the prestige and once somebody has that, the desire to spend another small fortune one or two years down the line is probably weak. The sales targets are much lower for luxury devices - it's just unrealistic to expect tens of thousands of costly watches to be shifted. But Tag's CEO was very happy with the initial 56,000+ sales of its first smartwatch.
So do the smart features even matter?
Well, there's no denying that sensors and features are a backseat factor in most people's decision to invest in this growing subsection of smartwatches. But this also doesn't mean they're completely irrelevant.
Louis Vuitton, being more affiliated with fashion and lifestyle, inevitably doesn't pack in the likes of heart rate and GPS — instead it focuses on watch faces and apps for travellers. At is should. For Tag, though, it makes sense to include this, since its modular design can cater for both lifestyle and exercise. Luxury watchmakers and fashion companies know how to target their customers and not throw every feature and sensor into the mix.
Will they all break the bank?
While we've seen a recent influx of pricey smartwatches, there's also the shower of devices set to be dropped from Fossil Group before the end of 2017. Diesel, Emporio Armani and Michael Kors are all slated to get in on the action, with Fossil also boasting its Q Venture and Q Explorist.
We don't know official prices for all the devices yet, since pretty much the entire range won't be on wrists for a few more months, but you can be sure they won't hit the same bracket as the luxury smartwatches. For instance, the Emporio Armani Connected collection will start at $345 for a hybrid with a leather strap, the Android Wear watch will no doubt cost more but we'd be surprised if it tops $500.
Is it just smartwatches?
While watches have seen the most encouragement from designer brands looking to embrace tech, there's also been examples of branching into other areas. For example, we recently took a dive into ProdigIO's luxe smart bracelets, and the likes of Levi's, Swarovski and Michael Kors have all made steps into smart clothing or smart jewellery, respectively.
Cut to it - what does the future hold?
It feels sensible to assume that the trend of luxury wearable devices with heavy price tags will continue - even if it means at a slower rate.
More and more designer brands like LV will look to mirror existing watch collections with a smart variant, while traditional watch brands will be forced to join the party in some capacity eventually. Best to start saving now, folks.