Tag Heuer, Breitling, Swatch & others usher in Swiss smartwatch movement ahead of Apple Watch

The Swiss watch market is bracing for the smartwatch movement, with many fearing another downturn for traditional mechanical timepieces much the same as when low cost Quartz movements were first introduced.

Industry players don’t intend to sit around and see how Apple Watch sells against traditional watches, however, as many of the watch world’s biggest luxury watchmakers— Tag Heuer, Breitling, Swatch, Frederique Constant—are showing off their first smart watches at Baselworld 2015 this week, the premier tradeshow for the jewelry industry where most Swiss watchmakers choose to unveil their latest creations each year.

A few on the list below were announced in the weeks leading up to Baselworld which officially starts today, but this week will be the first time anyone actually gets their hands on these new Swiss smartwatches that hope to compete with the Apple Watch. We’ll be updating this list as more luxury smart watches get unveiled in Basel, Switzerland. Read more

Tag Heuer & Google fire opening salvo at Apple Watch at Swiss watch conference

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With the Swiss watch conference, Baselworld, underway this morning, we’re expecting to find out how traditional watchmakers are going to respond to the Apple Watch. Tag Heuer is first in line, announcing a smartwatch version of one of its best-selling models, the Carrera, in partnership with Google and Intel.

TAG Heuer, Google and Intel have announced a partnership to launch a Swiss smartwatch powered by Intel technology and Android Wear. The effort signifies a new era of collaboration between Swiss watchmakers and Silicon Valley, bringing together each company’s respective expertise in luxury watchmaking, software and hardware.

While the company did not go into details, Reuters reports that the watch “will be a digital replica of the original Tag Heuer black Carrera, known for its bulky, sporty allure, and will look like the original.”

Sincere or not, Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver says that he welcomes the launch of the Apple Watch …  Read more

Still undecided about an Apple Watch? Startup offers ‘try before you buy’ rental

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The Apple Watch is not a cheap purchase, and with only 60% of our readers planning to buy one, it’s clear that many of you are not yet convinced you see a role for it. (I have to say I was even less convinced after checking out the size on my wrist in the Apple Store app–even the 42mm model looks tiny.)

My own plan, as a smartwatch skeptic, is to check that Apple’s 14-day return policy applies to the watch before buying one to try out for a week, fully expecting to return it. But if you don’t want to lay out that kind of cash even temporarily, a startup called Lumoid is offering Apple Watch rentals starting at $45 a week …  Read more

New wider color-screen smartwatch appears on Pebble’s website

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Update: The image has been removed and replaced with the below image of an actual pebble… Oops?

We told you last week that Pebble is likely about to announce the next-generation of its smartwatch, featuring a thinner design, a color e-paper-like display, and a revamped OS. Now, thanks to an image hosted on Pebble’s own servers, we have a look at a device with a physical appearance matching the device we described. The device looks to have a larger bezel, as well as buttons that are smaller compared to its predecessor.

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Apple targets for Apple Watch battery life revealed, A5-caliber CPU inside

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Although Apple has said that the Apple Watch will need to be charged nightly, the company has not disclosed any details on how long the wearable’s battery will last. For the first time, people with knowledge of the Apple Watch’s development have provided us with the specific performance targets Apple wants to achieve for the Apple Watch battery, but the actual numbers may fall short of those targets.

According to our sources, Apple opted to use a relatively powerful processor and high-quality screen for the Apple Watch, both of which contribute to significant power drain. Running a stripped-down version of iOS codenamed SkiHill, the Apple S1 chip inside the Apple Watch is surprisingly close in performance to the version of Apple’s A5 processor found inside the current-generation iPod touch, while the Retina-class color display is capable of updating at a fluid 60 frames per second.

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode. Sources, however, say that Apple will only likely achieve approximately 2-3 days in either the standby or low-power modes…

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Survey of Apple Watch purchase intentions suggests first year sales of 35M

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A Credit Suisse survey of iPhone 6/Plus owners found that 18% of them would ‘definitely’ buy an Apple Watch, with a further 11% saying they would probably buy the upcoming smartwatch, reports Business Insider.

A general rule of thumb when interpreting purchase intention claims is to count only those who say they will ‘definitely’ buy (some of them won’t, but that’s balanced out by the fact that some of the ‘probably’ and ‘maybe’ categories will). That would suggest around 35M sales in the first year …  Read more

Apple Watch launch expected in March, retail training set for mid-February

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Apple is finishing up work on the Apple Watch’s software, and sources familiar with the product’s development say that the device is currently on track to ship in the United States by the end of March. Apple previously said that the wearable product will ship in “early 2015,” while Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts got a bit more specific by telling employees that the launch will occur in the “spring,” after the Chinese New Year…

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Withings debuts Activité Pop smartwatch, brings an affordable splash of color to the original

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Withings announced its new Activité Pop smartwatch today during CES. While the original model will set you back $450, the new “Pop” version will only cost you $150. For that much lower price you’ll gain the same fitness-tracking functionality of the original, including compatibility with the Health Mate mobile app. Oh, and an eight-month battery.

A secondary hand on the face of the watch provides a simple way to quickly check how much of your daily exercise routine you’ve completed. The Activité Pop can measure many activities, from running to swimming, and even monitor your sleep cycle. It even has a silent, vibration-based alarm to help you wake up.

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Fresh supply chain rumor reiterates Apple Watch headed for mass-production in January

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A report by Taiwan’s United Daily News claims that Apple supplier Quanta will begin mass-production of the Apple Watch in January, echoing an earlier supply-chain rumor from September. It claims that the initial production run will be between three and five million units.

The report says that there have been ‘breakthroughs’ in yield issues, and that the company increased its production staffing from 3000 to 10,000 workers in the second half of the year, with further recruitment ongoing …  Read more

Sony reportedly plans to introduce style-focused e-paper smartwatch in 2015

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A new Bloomberg report indicates that Sony might be preparing to produce a smartwatch that uses an e-paper display rather than a traditional LCD display. Not only will the display be made of e-paper, the report continues, but the entire wrist band as well. Could such a device take on Apple’s own smartwatch, set for release early next year?

E-paper, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the same low-power “electronic paper” display used in devices like the Kindle. It allows a display to be legible, even in direct sunlight, by reflecting light rather than emitting it like a standard LCD display.

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Apple patents smoke detectors in iDevices that can call 911, activate sprinklers and locate building occupants

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The Nest smoke detector may look decidedly old-fashioned if one Apple patent ever makes it into production. Apple has patented the idea of embedding smoke detectors into “electronic devices” and using those devices to provide a comprehensive response to a fire.

In response to detecting smoke with the smoke detector, the electronic device may issue an alert or take other suitable action. The electronic device may transmit alerts to nearby electronic devices and to remote electronic devices such as electronic devices at emergency services facilities. Alerts may contain maps and graphical representations of buildings in which smoke has been detected. Motion detectors and other sensors and circuitry may be used in determining whether electronic devices are being used by users and may be used in determining where the electronic devices are located. Alerts may contain information on the location of detected smoke and building occupants.

In other words, your Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad or Mac could detect smoke, alert you, alert other devices within range, activate sprinklers, call emergency services and use the fact that an iDevice is moving or in use to tell fire crews where in the building you and your family members are …  Read more