First came the Withings Activité with its analogue approach and intelligent invisible smart capabilities. Now more Swiss companies are offering smartwatches with similar technologies, but are they as good? We caught up with watch makers Frédérique Constant and Alpina at Baselworld in Switzerland to find out.
The Alpina and Frédérique Constant smartwatches, while offering different styles on the wrist, both run the same underlying technology when it comes to being a smartwatch.
The watches' software platform is from Manufacture Modules Technologies (or MMT, for short). It is a new Swiss Joint Venture SARL formed by Fullpower and Union Horlogere Holdings. MMT has one mission: to bring Fullpower's MotionX Horological Smartwatch Open Platform to the Swiss watch industry, and it'll start by helping Swiss watch makers like Alpina and Frédérique Constant launch Horological smartwatches.
Fullpower will handle the schematic design, firmware, apps, and cloud infrastructure of the new Swiss smartwatches, while MMT will manage the Swiss watch movement development as well as licensing and support for the Swiss watch industry. Fullpower's MotionX technology allows the watches to be smart, but it also hides the tech from those around you.
There is no touchscreen, no voice activated controls, just a hidden Bluetooth chip inside that talks to your smartphone.
For those in the know there are tell-tale signs, mainly the inclusion of a second dial on the watch face, but to the unaware they look like regular watches. That second dials features two hands. One hand offers you the date at a glance, a second hand will tell you how active you've been in relation to your fitness goal you've set on the app on your phone.
In terms of styling of the timepieces there isn't much between them. Both offer round faces, a crown to the right at 3 o'clock for controlling the time and forcing a sync with your phone.
Of the two the Alpina feels more masculine in looks with a more youthful sporty styling compared to the more traditional and reserved Frédérique Constant design. Interestingly both watches we saw, before trying them on ourselves, where being worn by women. They looked good, if not a little large on the thinner wrists.
The Frédérique Constant Horological smartwatch it is finished with a 42mm stainless steel case and alligator strap and costs around £700. The Alpina Horological Smartwatch comes with a leather strap but doesn't have an exact price or release date but expect around £350 from April.
Get past the physicality's of the watches and the software is simple, but easy to use.
Supporting up to five watches within the same platform so you can swap out to different timepieces on a daily basis if you like, the app will allow you to make sense of the data the watch has been collecting. In the case of the two watches here, that's everything from your activity to sleep.
The activity tracker works in the same way as the Up activity band (it is the same platform) and will allow you to set daily goals to beat. Step goals can be set via the phone app and the data kept to allow you to see how you are performing over time.
Get active alerts mean you can set alarms to tell you to go and do some exercise if you've been sitting too long. Activity is obviously tracked by movement. We weren't able to see how accurate this was in our demo.
When you aren't moving the watches can track your sleep patterns. Here the software allows you to either simply wear the watch when you sleep or, as we suspect will be the case, if that's off-putting you can set it to work under your pillow instead.
The app will tell you how many times you woke up, when you actually went to sleep and how long you slept for.
For those wanting to wake up at the optimum time, you can set "smart sleep alarms" that will wake you up at the optimal time before your alarm time.
That means a set number of minutes before your alarm or up to 30 minutes before your wake up call. The idea is that you'll be able to have the watch wake you when you are light sleeping rather than in the middle of a deep sleep. By doing that the theory is you'll be fresher faced and ready for action, rather than groggy needing five cups of coffee to get you going.
Both of the smartwatches look "premium" and will appeal to those looking for something that looks like a traditional Swiss watch but with the added benefit of being "smart" at the same time.
With cross platform support for both Android and iOS, and the ability to replace your watch and an activity band at the same time, both these watches give you the chance to get fit and look good while doing it.