The Fashionable Future of Smart Watches

Moto 360 Smartwatch


by Adrian Herscovici  

The Shapes of Things to Come

So called smartwatches are appearing at an accelerated pace on the production lines of tech manufacturers and traditional watch manufacturers alike. Fueled by the desire to make headway into the market for new and different portable technology, each manufacturer hopes to be the first to design a device that consumers feel they actually need. But what should the ultimate smartwatch look like? The answer: it doesn’t matter, because function will dictate form.

The Latest Smartwatches

On January 1, 2015 Montblanc introduced its e-Strap, with smartwatch technology built into the strap rather than into the watch itself. Theoretically the e-Strap is interchangeable with all sorts of watches, and could therefore be classified as more of a smartwatch accessory. The e-Strap uses Bluetooth wireless technology to provide notifications and track physical activity in conjunction with a smartphone.

Montblanc E-Straps Adds Functionality to Luxury Watches
Montblanc E-Straps Adds Functionality to Luxury Watches
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Other companies are opting to integrate smartwatch technology directly into more traditional looking cases, which may be an attractive compromise for people who want high-tech functionality but don’t want an unattractive gadget on their wrists. The Withings Activaté watch is a good example; it has a stainless steel case mounted on a fine leather strap, a Swiss made dial and a sapphire crystal. The Activaté is also compatible with a smartphone.

Withings Activaté Watches
Withings Activaté Watches
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And last year the world took note when Apple made its first foray into smartwatches with the introduction of the Apple Watch, a unique device that is at once totally futuristic in appearance but incorporates classic elements of watch design including high-end case finishing, interchangeable straps and an external crown. The Apple Watch rolls out this year and, no surprise, works exclusively with an iPhone.

Apple Smartwatches
Apple Smartwatches
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Ambiguous Value Propositions

The one thing that all of the aforementioned examples have in common (along with the numerous other smartwatches on the market), is that their “smart” functions work only with a smartphone – the human race’s standard equipment in every demographic from pre-teen to septuagenarian. If the smartwatch is going to complement, let alone eclipse, the smartphone, it needs to work more independently or offer more meaningful enhancements.

Sure, there are tech-savvy people who will adopt smartwatches immediately; yes, there are purists who have no interest whatsoever in wearing a wrist computer; and yes, there are those in between who require a compelling reason to consider switching from what they already wear, or to wearing any watch at all.

Sony Smartwatch User
Sony Smartwatch User
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Current smartwatches offer few luxuries of convenience to drive anyone’s willingness to adopt them as mandatory equipment. Figuring out the value of the smartwatch to the consumer is therefore the obvious million-dollar question. Whatever the “ultimate” smartwatch does, be certain that this functionality will have a greater impact on dictating its shape than whether or not the device is 50 or 100 mm wide. Ultimately, the decision to wear a smartwatch is about function, not form.

Function First

Companies like HYT, MB&F and Urwerk already produce mechanical watches that stretch the imagination about how a watch looks and displays time. Some of the watches by these companies are impractical and all of them are exclusive and expensive, but they do indicate that people have an inherent interest in new shapes, sizes and designs if the device’s purpose is clear – all of the watches by these companies are high-end timepieces designed to tell time and appeal to their respective audience.

Once there is a smartwatch with a clear purpose that offers essential advantages to the wearer, fashion will adopt the form and people will make the shape – whatever it is – fit within their daily lives, just like smartphones. The bottom line is: first, create something that people need and then experiment and refine the shape and style.

Maybe designing a strap to attach a smartphone to the wrist is a smarter approach than trying to transform the smartphone into some type of wrist device; maybe shirts with custom sleeve lengths to accommodate such a smartphone strap will become commonplace. We’ll find out soon enough.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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Forget About Tourbillons! Watch Aficionados Finally Embrace Technology

Seiko Astron GPS Watch


by John Sealander  

A Brief History of High-Tech Watches

There have been high-tech timepieces for almost as long as there have been advancements in technology. First to become popular in the early 1970’s were watches that displayed the time using LED diodes like the Hamilton Pulsar worn by Roger Moore in “Live and Let Die.” Later, calculator watches, fitness watches, and hiking and adventure watches became popular for a time.

Although some of these timepieces are still prized by collectors, very few were ever taken seriously by watch aficionados. Sophisticated watch fans have always preferred the precision gears, jeweled bearings, and tiny springs found in traditional mechanical movements.

The love of old world craftsmanship is still strong, but there is a new appreciation for technology among fans of luxury timepieces. High-tech timepieces are finally beginning to be taken seriously.

A New Generation of High Tech Watches

The current crop of high-tech timepieces has caught the attention of prestigious watch journals and sophisticated fans with their unique combination of great design, superb craftsmanship, and advanced features. Watches like the Casio Pro Trek PRW6000, the Seiko Astron, and the Citizen Skyhawk AT are getting rave reviews by offering battery-free solar power, atomic clock accuracy, and sophisticated chronograph features in a beautiful, well-designed package that rivals the best high-end mechanical watches.

In a world where your cell phone and computer always display the correct time to the exact second, many younger watch aficionados are starting to expect the same type of accuracy from the watch on their wrist. Unlike earlier generations of technology watches that displayed their information in an ugly plastic case, the latest high-tech watches are beautifully crafted masterpieces.

Seiko’s Foresight and Continuing Excellence

When Seiko introduced the Astron, the first commercially available quartz timepiece in 1969, they said “Someday, all watches will be made this way.” Now Seiko is saying the same thing about a brand new Astron. This amazing timepiece, housed in a stylish titanium case, is powered by the sun, automatically adjusts to the time zone you’re in using GPS satellite signals, and features a perpetual calendar that is always correct until February 28, 2100.

The Astron recognizes all 39 of the world’s time zones by determining its current location using GPS, then comparing that information with an onboard database that divides the Earth’s surface into one million squares, each of which is assigned to a particular time zone. This is something even $100,000 mechanical watches can’t do. Even the most sophisticated mechanical watch will only display 37 time zones with a manual reset.

High-Tech Watch Popularity Continues to Grow

Less expensive high tech watches like the Casio Pro Trek PRW6000 and Citizen Skyhawk AT use radio signals from an atomic clock instead of GPS satellites to maintain split-second accuracy. What they share with the Seiko Astron is great design and superbly crafted cases. Maybe that’s why they are showing up on the wrists of more and more sophisticated watch aficionados.

The latest generation of high-tech timepieces has raised the bar for all timepieces. When it becomes possible to provide more, people tend to expect more. There will always be a place for traditional mechanical timepieces, but these types of watches are already becoming fashion items instead of functional tools. Although the best mechanical watches are already just as collectible as a vintage Ferrari or couture gown, you might not be wearing one to work much longer. They are ultimately museum pieces. When you can wear a precisely crafted, impeccably styled timepiece that runs forever on solar power and tells you the exact time to the millisecond even if you are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, why would you want to wear anything else?

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

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The Emerging Market for Chinese Made Luxury Goods

Chinese Shopper Go On a Luxury Clothing Shopping Spree


by John Sealander  

When Chinese Manufacturers Stop Copying and Start Innovating

China became a global manufacturing powerhouse largely by copying the ideas of others. The Chinese became experts at creating knock-offs of popular brands and the copies became so good that the luxury labels they copied began manufacturing their own products in China as well. Now, practically every major brand manufacturers many of their products in China.

The tremendous demand for China’s ability to manufacture almost anything less expensively than their competitors in other countries has created a large and increasingly wealthy Chinese middle class. These newly affluent Chinese quickly developed an appetite for luxury and began buying the most popular high-end labels from around the world. As Chinese sophistication and buying power continued to increase, some Chinese designers began wondering why China couldn’t create their own high quality luxury goods.

Chinese pride, a booming economy, and the rise of Chinese creativity, has created a growing demand for products that are not only manufactured in China, but designed there as well. Chinese fashionistas are no longer flocking to the West for the latest trends. They are turning to exciting original collections by a new generation of emerging Chinese designers instead. Designers like Uma Wang have already been profiled in Italian Vogue. Chinese designer Qiu Hao was a recent Woolmark Prize winner, a prize that was previously reserved for European luminaries like Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.

Chinese Develop Luxury Taste Buds

Everywhere you look, the Chinese are making the transition from fashion followers to emerging tastemakers. The huge changes in tastes and attitudes of the growing Chinese middle class has created opportunities for a new generation of talented Chinese designers who are extremely proud of the “made in China” label. These designers are not satisfied with creating knock-offs. They are determined to be the best on the world stage.

“My heritage is full of beautiful craftsmanship and history with a strong understanding of femininity and luxury,” says influential Chinese designer Huishan Zhang. “It is only a matter of time before the avant-garde taste for individuality in China further evolves into a ‘Made in China,’ homegrown style that will be applauded at home and abroad.”

Luxury Watch Manufacturing in China

Chinese watchmakers were quick to recognize the almost insatiable demand for tourbillon movements by their Chinese customers. About 15 years ago, they decided to meet this demand by manufacturing their own tourbillons. As their expertise in manufacturing tourbillon movements grew, the reputation of their intricate timepieces grew among the world’s watch aficionados. Now, the demand for a Chinese made tourbillon timepiece is almost as high outside China as it is among the Chinese.

High quality Chinese-designed watches and clothing are relatively new to the global market but are growing in importance every day. The Chinese have become self-aware and are proud of their heritage and skills. They no longer are satisfied to make economical goods for the rest of the world. They are determined to design and create the world’s best products and have customers comes to them.

China Produces Its Own Luxury Watch Brands

The Chinese love wristwatches and Chinese watch manufactures have already made the transition to producing high quality luxury products of their own. Although every major watch manufacturer has manufacturing facilities in China, the Chinese are doing something that none of them expected. They are no longer satisfied with copying and are starting to produce their own high quality timepieces filled with genuine homegrown innovation.

The Chinese Fiyta Spacemaster timepiece is prized by collectors around the world and has a reputation that puts it in the same league with popular Fortis and Omega space watches. The limited edition Spacemaster features a superb mechanical moment of Chinese design and includes innovations like an anti-clockwise locking crown to prevent accidental crown release and a unique 8-hour rotating bezel that serves as a life support indicator for the Chinese Feitian EVA spacesuit. Chinese Taikonauts wear this watch on space missions and a growing number of sophisticated collectors are starting to wear them as well.

The Future of China’s Growing Luxury Market

The emergence of Chinese creativity and a new appreciation for Chinese excellence has implications for every manufacturer of luxury goods. The world has already seen the power of the Chinese economy. When the Chinese turn their energies to producing top-quality, original designs, the world better watch out. The Chinese are already learning, as the Europeans and Americans did before them, that creativity is the key to homegrown success. Combine China’s emerging appreciation for the role of creativity with China’s proven manufacturing prowess and you’ve got the recipe for a true luxury powerhouse.

Will “China made” eventually replace “Swiss made” on the dial of your favorite timepiece? Only time will tell.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

Join the conversation! Follow Gevril Group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog digest.

5 Reasons Why Every Millennial Needs a Good Watch

Millennials


by Bonnie McEwan  

When Your Phone Is Not Enough

Picture a classroom full of undergraduates at one of New York City’s progressive universities. Everyone in the room is of the Millennial Generation, which means they were born between 1982 and 2000. Most students are about 19 years old. Many are hoping to snare summer internships in the city’s fashion, financial or professional service sectors.

The professor has forgotten her watch and, unaware that she is about to show her age, asks for the time by saying, “Does anyone have a watch?” Several students pull out their smart phones and call out the time. “We have our phones,” someone says, “not watches.” It turns out that, of 25 students, only one is wearing a watch. This is more than just a sign of the times. For aspiring Millennials, it’s a lost opportunity.

Here are five reasons why every Millennial should have a good watch:

1) A watch is functional and easy to access. With just a twist of your wrist you learn the time and, depending on what brand you choose, perhaps the current phase of the moon or how many seconds it took you to chase after that cross town bus. No rummaging around in your pocket or backpack for a phone. No moving through multiple screens before you can simply find out what time it is.

2) A watch makes a statement. It signals what kind of person you are — a focused minimalist (Johan Eric); a fashion-forward creative (Versus Versace); an athletic executive (GV2). An interesting watch is a conversation starter. It gives little hints about your unique blend of professionalism and personality. A watch is distinctive.

3) A good watch is a fashion accessory. You can change watches to match outfits. Watches offer thousands of options and features for you to choose from. Colors, shapes, dials, metals, leather, diamonds, solar, atomic, bangles and buttons, in just about any combination you can imagine. Meanwhile, everyone’s phones look pretty much the same.

4) Watches signal achievement. They say you got that great job. Passed the bar. Made it to an office with a real door that closes. A good watch is a gift worthy of marking an occasion. Engrave it, treasure it, wear it as an emblem of success.

5) A quality watch becomes a family heirloom. If you’re lucky, you inherit one from your grandfather. If not, start your own tradition by investing in a watch you love that you can pass down to your children. Watches get better with time, but nobody hands down an old smartphone.

There’s one other big advantage of a watch over a phone. Watchmakers don’t take their customers hostage with a two-year contract. They don’t send you a bill every month and no matter how much you use your watch, there will never be any overage charges.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

Join the conversation! Follow Gevril Group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog digest.

Will Swatch Sistem51 Revolutionize the Watch Industry or Be Rejected by It?

Swatch Sistem51

by John Sealander  

Is the watch world ready for a super accurate, maintenance free, “Swiss made” mechanical timepiece that is mass-produced with only 51 parts?

SwatchThirty years ago Swatch revolutionized the watch industry with the introduction of the world’s first line of stylish, inexpensive quartz watches. Now, many say they’ve turned the world upside down again with the introduction of the world’s first high quality, all-mechanical movement assembled entirely by machine.

The innovative Swatch Sistem51 is unlike any mechanical watch ever made. There are only 51 components, compared to over 600 in most modern mechanical watches. The assembly of this watch has been 100% automated, using high-tech robots to weld together the individual components to create a single assembly centered on one screw. This unique timepiece has no regulator and is adjusted for life at the factory using a laser. The all-mechanical movement features a 90-hour power reserve and is hermetically sealed so that no moisture, dust or foreign objects can enter the watch or interfere with its operation.

Swatch Sistem51 Red Swatch Sistem51 White
Swatch Sistem51 Red Swatch Sistem51 White
Click to Enlarge Image Click to Enlarge Image

The watch is 100% Swiss made, is self-lubricating, and is accurate to 5 seconds a day. Typically a Swiss made mechanical watch with these specifications will cost thousands of dollars, but the Sistem51 is expected to retail for less than $100. This mass-produced mechanical marvel is made using a special alloy of copper, nickel and zinc. It is non-magnetic, so the movement will never need adjusting. Since all the components are attached using a single screw, there is very little wear and tear.

Is There a Demand?

The big question now is whether there is a market for such a watch. Although extremely reliable and accurate, it has none of the snob appeal of its pricy handmade Swiss cousins. The Sistem51 is more expensive than equivalent Swatch quartz watches, yet offers far fewer features than the latest generation of “smart watches” that are starting to hit the market.

What the Swatch Sistem51 does offer is a super accurate, extremely reliable, all mechanical Swiss made movement in an inexpensive plastic case. Like any Swatch design, the Sistem51 can be easily customized with an unlimited number of color variations and face designs. Although the innovative watch has received wide praise for it’s technological innovations, it remains to be seen whether it will be commercially viable.

Does the market really want an inexpensive all-mechanical watch, or will people continue to prefer the exclusivity of handmade mechanical timepieces costing thousands more? Since the technology itself is revolutionary, it would not be surprising to see Swatch incorporate the new movement in some of its own high-end brands. Will there eventually be an Omega, Breguet, or Blancpain watch with a Sistem51 movement? Only time will tell.

Potential Game-Changer

The Japanese and Chinese already offer a wide variety of affordable mechanical timepieces. Currently however, when a watch says Swiss made on the dial, it is usually quite expensive. The breakthrough Sistem51 design might change all that.

If the Sistem51 design turns out to be as reliable as has been initially claimed, it could even cut into the sale of quartz watches. Why would people want to keep changing batteries when they could get a high quality self-winding mechanical watch for the same price?

Although the Swatch Sistem51 was introduced over a year ago at Baselworld 2013, it has only recently become available in retail markets. As people begin to discover this revolutionary new design, it could have a major impact on the entire watch industry. Nobody denies that this watch is a breakthrough. The only uncertainty at this point is whether it will be a commercial success.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

Join the conversation! Follow Gevril Group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog digest.

The 3 Most Popular Watch Bezel Types

Watch Bezel


by Adrian Herscovici  

Interval meters, dive and GMT: The most popular types of watch bezels

One watch component that is referenced regularly is the bezel – a rim attached to the case and surrounding the dial that usually serves the purpose of holding the watch crystal in place.

Audemars Piguet Royal OakAt its simplest, the bezel is an unadorned ring, usually made from the same material as the watch case. Other bezels are decorated with inset gems or ornamental stones. Some even achieve iconic status because of their unmistakable shape and brilliant design – just look at the Royal Oak and others designed by the inimitable Gerald Genta.

Given the conspicuous position of the bezel on the front side of the watch, it also provides a convenient area to assign other useful tasks.

Interval Meters

A bezel is a great place to put markings for a chronograph interval meter. The most common of these is a tachymeter, which is typically used to calculate speed over a distance. The Fortis Official Cosmonauts Chronograph employs a tachymeter on the bezel. Other variations of interval meters include telemetric (to measure the speed of sound) and pulsimetric (to measure a pulse). A more thorough explanation of all three is here.

A rarer bezel in this category is the aviation-themed “slide rule” or “calculator rule.” Ferragamo features one on these on the Ferragamo F-80 Pilot. The bezel works in conjunction with the flange and interior markings for use as a pilot’s tool to calculate various operations including speed and fuel consumption. Learn about how to use one here.

Dive Watch Bezels

The most recognizable bezel of all is the dive bezel. The look is so popular that some brands incorporate it into watches as a non-functional design element. A dive bezel has a 60-minute scale, usually with large markers at the five-minute increments and smaller markers at the one-minute increments (at least between 15 and zero). The zero position is usually marked by an arrow and a luminous dot. The Fortis B-42 Marinemaster Chronograph employs a dive bezel of this description.

Originally designed to monitor elapsed time underwater, dive bezels can also be used in more practical scenarios like monitoring how much time is left in a parking meter or when to flip a steak on the barbecue. When used in scuba diving, the countdown measurement is a matter of life and death since divers use it to track how much oxygen remains in their tank*. A genuine dive bezel is unidirectional, i.e., it rotates in one direction only (counterclockwise) so if it moves, it will signify less air in the tank, meaning the worst case scenario is the diver surfaces with leftover oxygen. If it were to move in the opposite direction, the diver might think he or she has more time than oxygen remaining in the tank.

*Note: Most divers now rely on a dive computer rather than a dive bezel.

GMT and World Time Bezels

Another familiar bezel is the bidirectional GMT, usually with 24-hour markings. The bezel can be used in a few ways: one, to track a second time zone in conjunction with a dedicated GMT hand; to establish whether it is daytime or nighttime in that corresponding time zone; or to follow a third time zone altogether. A GMT watch is a favorite among pilots who regularly travel between time zones. For a detailed explanation visit this web page.

A variation of the GMT bezel is the world-time bezel, which displays the names of world cities. To use it, set the local time on the watch and turn the bezel to match the current city name with the local time using the 24-hour track – the times in all of the other cities now appear concurrently on the 24-hour track. The Fortis B-47 World Timer GMT has a world-time bezel (the watch also displays a second time zone by way of a rotating middle disk).

Other types of bezels will surely emerge as watch design evolves. The new RM 60-01 by Richard Mille, for example, has a rotating bezel with a compass. But whether you prefer the simplicity of a watch with nothing more than a traditional unadorned bezel, or something bejeweled in colorful stones, or a purpose-built dive bezel, the abundant options are part of what makes watch collecting so enjoyable.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupGevril Group, watchmaker and wholesale watch distributor, is the exclusive U.S. agent for exquisitely designed and crafted European luxury and fashion watch brands, distributing and servicing some of the best affordable luxury and Swiss watches and trendy fashion watches. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair, staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.

Join the conversation! Follow Gevril Group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please subscribe to the Gevril Group newsletter and blog digest.