The watch is not very old, less than 150 years old in fact, and is a miniaturized evolution of the chronograph wall watch. The legendary Swiss luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe made the first custom-made watch in 1868, and the watch began to replace the pocket watch 100 years ago, thanks to the luxury dealer Cartier. The quartz watch, introduced 50 years ago, began to replace the expensive mechanical watch, bringing the watch to millions of households.
The popularity of cell phones once brought darkness to the future of watches. Since more than a decade ago, consumers have become more accustomed to pulling out their phones to check the time and more information, while gradually ignoring the square inch on their wrists. The watch has gradually lost its inherent function and evolved into more of a fashion item and luxury.
Can smart watches recreate the rigid demand and bring a second renaissance to the watch field? Perhaps smart can re-energize the watch and become an emerging product in the future, but at least for now, smart watches are still at a very early stage of exploration and are still the feverish plaything of techies and cool geeks.
A world focused on appearances
In the extremely competitive smartphone market, regardless of hardware and parameters, products with outstanding design and good materials always win the first glance of consumers, and this is the case with Apple, Sony, HTC and other brands.
For smartwatches, which are still in the initial stage, design and workmanship are particularly important. The functions and positioning of smartwatches are very ambiguous, and in layman’s terms, they are still at the stage of “available or not available”, far from being a necessity of life like smartphones. To gain the recognition of users and the market for a product type that is not in urgent demand, it needs to put more effort into the design aesthetics.
That’s why Google and Intel are seeking to work with the New York fashion scene to promote Google Glass and wearable devices. Only an elegant and stylish design can attract the average consumer to try a new technology product. This is why Moto 360 has gained industry attention from the very beginning, while Samsung has launched several generations of smartwatches that still failed to catch users’ eyes.
What is the beauty of a smartwatch? Each manufacturer has its own different aesthetic direction for this question. Simply put, a smartwatch looks like an electronic watch or a traditional watch. The former includes the most common products in the market today, including manufacturers such as Pebble, Samsung and LG; the latter includes companies such as Motorola and France’s Withings.
Pebble and Samsung’s smartwatches appear in a thoroughly electronic watch style. The square dial, LCD numbers, and plastic material all reflect that this is a FMCG electronic product. Even if Samsung adds a gold color scheme, it also has a strong technological digital style.
The Moto and Withings watches appear with round dials, 316L stainless steel bodies, and leather or metal straps. To reduce the visual impact of the charging jack, Moto uses wireless charging technology. At least in a cursory look, wearing these two smartwatches can approximate a traditional quartz watch.
It’s hard to objectively judge the beauty of a watch, as each has its own merits. When Moto 360 was first released, a lot of tech media reported it as “the most beautiful smartwatch to date”, while Withings Activite was praised as The Withings Activite was praised as “the smartwatch that looks most like a traditional watch”.
Function and Positioning
The current smartwatches can also be classified as either a companion to smartphones or a product that can exist independently of smartphones. Whether it is the pre-platform era such as Pebble, Casio G-Shock GB-6900, or smartwatches based on Android Wear platform, the main design concept is to exist as an extension of smartphones.
The main use scenarios of these smartwatches are all designed to reduce the frequency of smartphone use: when there are incoming calls, emails, text messages, etc., users can check or simply reply directly on the smartwatch without having to take out the phone every time because of some unimportant information. Users can also search for information directly by voice when they need to check some simple information such as weather.
In fact, unimportant emails and text messages are just as intrusive when viewed through the watch, and it’s not easier to raise your hand and turn your wrist frequently than to pull out your phone. And if you want to reply to an email, private message, or WeChat, you still have to take out your phone to do so. At least for the time being, this kind of smartwatch with notification as its main selling point is not very attractive.
Take my personal experience as an example, I usually cancel email alerts directly on my phone and only receive push notifications from WeChat and private messages, while checking and processing emails several times a day. This habit does not require the intervention of a smartwatch, and if several messages are pushed in a row, the smartwatch can only display the number of messages and you still have to take out your phone to check them.
However, on Google and Apple platform smartwatches, it is also possible to access third-party applications to achieve more functions. This provides more possibilities for the future development of smartwatches. In addition, smartwatches also have some functions that are independent of smartphones. The previous Samsung smartwatch can take pictures and answer phone calls, and the smartwatch just released by Intel can also communicate independently of the phone.