The Sony FES Watch U is a watch with a strap and face design you can change with the press of a button.
Its face and strap have a layer of e-paper, which looks similar to the screen of an Amazon Kindle ereader. The FES Watch U went on sale in Japan in June 2017, but those in the UK and Europe will finally be able to get hold of it without importing, from “mid-September”.
We do really mean finally too. Back in 2015 we saw an earlier version of the FES watch, which was a crowdfunded project.
This newer model is a little different, though. It has a stainless steel bezel, and ultra-tough glass on its front. The silver version uses mineral glass, and the more expensive black Watch U has even harder sapphire glass.
Its battery lasts around three weeks, and is rechargeable, and the FES Watch U is water resistant to IPX5 and IPX7. This means it can take water jets and being submerged at up to 1m depth. Showers? Yes. Swimming? No.
The watch hooks up with Androids and iPhones over Bluetooth, and a FES Closet app lets you choose the design “printed” onto the face and strap. More than 100 designs are available now and Sony says more will be added each month.
They’re all monochrome because the e-paper is itself monochrome. And it’s also far more suitable for use in a strap than an OLED or LCD display, because e-paper substrates can handle repeated flexing better, and are unusually tough.
The FES Watch U isn’t a smartwatch. It isn’t even a pedometer. But it’s a little different to all the other tech-infused watches around.
There’s just one problem: the price. You’ll pay £529 for the silver version with mineral glass, and £699 for the black with sapphire glass. Ouch. If you have a Hong Kong holiday planned you might want to hold out as the price over there, 3490HKD, converts to £380.