Swiss watch-maker Montblanc recently released details of its new TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap but is it really a smart watch killer?
The TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap
The simple answer to that question is of course, no. Die-hard fans of the smart watch movement have already been quick to point out that the new TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap can’t even measure something as basic as your heart rate.
What is does do though – in addition to a few other cool things we’ll discuss shortly – is provide an interesting insight into one of the ways luxury watch brands may be planning to incorporate electronic wearable technology into their products without compromising on the prestige associated with mechanical movements.
As you can see in the photos the watch itself, Montblanc’s popular entry-level timepiece the TimeWalker, remains unchanged. What is different of course is the addition of the surprisingly functional – and stylish – Urban Speed e-Strap. Simply flip your wrist over – perhaps discreetly during a boring meeting or a long speech – and you immediately have access to the small touchscreen embedded in the strap itself.
Now I know at first glance this little screen – which has thoughtfully been encapsulated within a rubber-coated stainless steel case for protection – may not look like much but connect it to your smartphone using the companion app and it’s a whole other story. In fact according to Montblanc the new TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap boasts the following features:
Smart notifications: gentle vibrations from your wrist alert you to various types of incoming communication. You can preview e-mails by topic and sender, read text messages, see incoming calls and status updates on various social media feeds or even get reminders of important upcoming meetings, all without you even needing to take your phone out of your pocket.
Activity tracker: a simple tool that monitors the wearer´s physical activity over time and keeps track of daily goals, etc. Although by no means as advanced as other offerings on the market the TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap is able measures the number of steps taken per day, calories burnt and the distance travelled, all of which is kept on record in the accompanying smartphone app.
Find-Me function: as the name suggests this little feature allows you to search for your watch or phone within a range of up to 30 meters, either by tapping on the e-Strap to find the smartphone or by using the smartphone application to find the watch.
As an added bonus you can also use the TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap to control some of the functions on your phone remotely. My personal favorite is the feature that allows you to control the camera on your phone so you can take group shots (or let’s be honest, selfies) by tapping on your wrist instead of your phone. Not sure how well that would work in real life but it’s a cool idea nonetheless. You can also play, pause, and skip music on your connected smartphone using the music control function on the e-Strap.
The e-Strap uses Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity that allows it to pair with selected Android and iOS smartphones, such as the iPhone 4S and later, Galaxy S4, and others. Depending on usage, the device needs to be recharged every 5 days using a standard micro-USB cable.
Not bad for a little screen embedded into the strap of your luxury mechanical watch. How comfortable it will be on the wrist remains to be seen but on the plus side the strap is also interchangeable so if you want to go “offline” for a night out with just your TimeWalker you can do that too.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap series will be available in June with prices ranging from €2,990 (US$3,750) for the automatic to €4,690 (US$5,600) for the chronograph. The e-Strap is also available separately for €350 (US$418).
Check out Montblanc for more information.
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