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March 18, 2017

Swatch is developing its own smartwatch platform, avoiding the lure of Android Wear

by John_A

Swatch is looking to enter the smartwatch market using its own platform, the company confirmed in an interview on 16 March, choosing not to follow suit and use Google’s Android Wear as a number of rivals have done.

Company CEO Nick Hayek confirmed the details, reported by Bloomberg, stating that the Swatch owned Tissot brand would have a homebrew smartwatch ready for launch in by the end of 2018.

The disadvantage of going it alone is that you have to start from scratch when it comes to bringing compatibility and functionality. That’s the advantage that Android Wear offers: it’s being developed by Google and app developers are actively engaging with it, so it’s a wholesale approach. 

Swatch has said that the aim is to reduce battery power and protect user’s data better, targeting two common points of discussion with modern mobile devices. The company hasn’t, however, confirmed what sort of functionality the watch will offer or what segment of the market it will specifically address. 

Swatch has been slowly adding connected functionality to its devices, but the Tissot Smart Touch shown off at Baselworld 2016 has been noticeably absent from shelves, although we’re only a year on since that demo, and it could well launch. Time moves slowly in the world of watches. 

Across the valley, Swiss Watch maker Tag Heuer has announced its second-gen Connected model based on Android and has been joined by Montblanc, also turning to Google to provide a platform. 

The advantage that going solo brings is that Swatch gets to define the product: Android Wear watches are rather predictable and Swatch might be aiming for a connected middle ground that’s not defined by the platform.

It’s a gamble, sure, but it’s also an indicator that Swatch is taking the smartwatch sector seriously: it’s not opting for an off-the-shelf solution, it wants to be bespoke.

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