Source: IWC Schaffhausen via Bloomberg

IWC Gets Into the Smartwatch Game

IWC Connect will add digital functions to a watch strap

Another Swiss luxury watchmaker has entered the smartwatch fray. Over the last few months we've seen the introductions of Frederique Constant's fitness tracking watches, Montblanc's e-strap, and TAG Heuer's partnership with Google and Intel to create a smart Carrera. Now IWC Schaffhausen has announced the IWC Connect.

Right off the bat, let's get one thing straight: The IWC Connect is not a stand-alone smartwatch. 

Instead, it's a small secondary device that attaches to your watch's strap and adds such things as fitness tracking and network connectivity on top of the traditional mechanical watch. It's unclear how much the IWC Connect will do; the accompanying app is going to be a huge component. Considering that IWC was one of the first luxury watch brands to have a website that didn't look like it was designed for Netscape Navigator, I'm curious to see what rolls out of Schaffhausen. Skeptical, but curious.

HANDOUT - Continuing the company’s long tradition of engineering innovation, Swiss luxury watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen is announcing the launch of a new device:IWC Connect.This intelligent tool, which will be embedded in the straps of mechanical timepieces from IWC, is designed to give wearers control over certain devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) and provide fully fledged activity tracking. (PHOTOPRESS/IWC)

The IWC Connect, mounted on a Big Pilot watch.

Source: IWC Schaffhausen via Bloomberg

For now, additions details are scarce, just as IWC Schaffhausen Chief Executive Officer George Kern said they would be on Bloomberg TV just a few weeks ago, but we should start hearing about things like price, delivery date, and full feature set in the coming months. 

The diversity of approaches we've seen from traditional watchmakers—everything from fitness tracking watches to notification centers to Android-wear equipped gadgets—tells us that Switzerland knows it faces a big challenge, it's greatest since the commercialization of quartz watches in the 1970s. But there's no unified strategy on how to tackle that challenge, and brands are willing to try whatever they can to keep Fitbits and Apple Watches off wrists as long as possible. "Many of our customers are already wearing connected devices alongside their IWC watches," said IWC in an e-mailed statement. "With IWC Connect, however, there is no need any more to have additional devices on your wrist."

Later this year, we'll see if the IWC Connect is up to the task.


Update: This story was updated to include a statement from IWC Schaffhausen.

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