Will smart watches ever really replace the wrist watch?
The speed at which all aspects of our lives have evolved over a relatively short space of time is really quite frightening. From what we eat to how we get around, there isn’t one part of us that hasn’t changed significantly over the past century.
And the same goes for the humble wristwatch.
Almost exactly 100 years ago, an article in the New York Times questioned a new fashion trend – people wearing clocks on bracelets on their wrist. This fashion had emanated from soldiers at war strapping their pocket watches to their wrists to make it easier to coordinate their movements. And so the wristwatch was born.
It wasn’t long before the wristwatch was a staple of men’s and women’s outfits – anyone who was anyone owned a watch, and ever since we’ve seen incremental improvements. Features such as waterproofing and kineticism have evolved the concept of the watch, but by far the biggest jump in function is the introduction of the smart watch.
Once the stuff of sci-fi that was more at home on the likes of Star Trek, smart watches are now very much a reality, and we can pretty much run our lives through them. We can make phone calls, take photos, update social media, track our fitness & health – oh, and we can tell the time, too.
But as much as Apple and other smart watch forerunners try and persuade us to adopt their tech, will smart watches ever really replace the classic wristwatch?
Watch companies continue to embrace the smart watch, and Apple alone as apparently sold 12 million Apple Watches in 2015 alone, which isn’t too shabby. However, there still seems to be a reluctance to fully accept it as a necessary piece of tech.
That’s because, at the moment at least, it’s not enough of a necessity – there are other things that do all of its jobs better, and these are things we already have. Our phones are better at sending messages, making calls, and most other things, while wristwatches are pretty perfect when it comes to telling the time.
We don’t have to charge our watches every night, for a start, but where wristwatches are still masters or their craft is in their design and aesthetic, and this is something that the watch makers themselves are all too aware of.
In this interview, watch experts Mondaine questioned what people want from their watch: “The watch linked to the smartphone is certainly very interesting and will play an important role in the future. However, the question is whether consumers prefer to wear computers on their wrist, whether they want something more traditional, or if they want something that combines the two.”
In the same interview, LEFF Amsterdam echoed these sentiments, suggesting that smart watches need to look backwards to go forwards: “in my opinion this will take some time due to the design off the smartwatch, which at the moment is and almost universal design. Who wants to wear the same watch that everybody is wearing and looks like a “tech thing”.
“If Apple and Google are smart, they will make individual components, such as a back case that has a sensor and sends all the info to an app. Then we and other authentic watch brands will add that back case to our watches so people can still buy the designs that fit them, keep their own identity and have all the new technology at the same time.”
Utility Design, who conducted the interview with Mondaine and LEFF Amsterdam, also spoke with a number of fashion influencers and bloggers, and it was clear that traditional wristwatches provide something special that smartwatches just can’t at the moment. Just take a look at some of the quotes below:
Watches are very clearly still dear to people’s hearts, and it’s difficult to say that smartwatches are there at the moment. However, that’s not to say that they won’t be in the future. The Misfit Phase is a new smartwatch that looks much more like a traditional wristwatch than a futuristic smartwatch, and if this is the way forward then it’s not a stretch to believe that in 10 years, all our watches will have such technology embedded within them.