Will Google Win the Smartwatch War?

Google Android Wear


by John Sealander  

Will the company with the best hardware win the smartwatch wars? Or will it be the company with the most data?

GoogleAlmost everybody agrees that wearable technology will be the next big thing. What is unclear at this point is who will come up with the winning formula for a successful smartwatch. Pundits and industry insiders could learn a lot by looking at what has happened to Blackberry. This popular platform actually incorporated very sophisticated technology when it was introduced. It was left behind in the dust however, when other manufacturers discovered that software was much more important to smartphone customers than the hardware.

Innovative, inexpensive and even free apps turned the modern smartphone into a versatile tool that could do virtually anything. Ten years later, the same thing could be happening with the emerging market for wearable technology. This time, it won’t be the apps that make the difference; it will be how effectively these apps will be able to access and utilize vast amounts of data.

A Data Goldmine

Who has access to the most data these days? One company stands head and shoulders above the rest is Google. Google has access to such an enormous amount of data that they already have the capacity to do things that other companies can’t. This is why when Google announced recently that it was exploring a new line of Android Wear, it caused a lot of speculation within the watch industry.

Imagine a watch with motion sensors and a microphone. It might figure out that you’re dancing and tell you what song is playing. A Google smartwatch could interface with your online calendar and not only remind you about upcoming events, it could also suggest what you might bring to the party, based on what stores are nearby. Google is all about putting data in context. Instead of a long list of Apple style apps, a Google smartwatch might continually track what you are doing and suggest an appropriate response, based on the context of your actions at the time.

Instead of traditional apps, a Google smartwatch will probably be based on a set of actions. This is what Google is already exploring with its innovative Google Glass wearable project. Using context based actions, you could quickly and easily use your watch for calling a cab, exploring a new city, finding nearby friends, or planning an alternate route to the airport. Google’s innovative creative team lives in a world where cyborgs are cool and talking to your gadgets is as normal as striking up a conversation with the person next to you. They want to go beyond technology and create a watch that becomes an extension of you.

Google in the Driver’s Seat?

Just as Apple understood what a new generation of customers wanted better than Blackberry, Google seems to understand what future generations are going to want better than most current technology companies.

The smartwatch wars have just begun and there won’t be a single winner. Companies as diverse as Sony, Apple, Motorola, Samsung, and even watchmaking giant Swatch, are all planning to introduce their own versions of wearable technology in the near future. Anything could happen at this point, but it would be unwise to count Google out. Google has something that other companies don’t. Google has all the data.

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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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.

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Hublot Chairman Accuses Apple of Stealing Watchmakers

Hublot Watchmakers


by John Sealander  

Will your next smartwatch say “Swiss made” on the dial?

When Jean-Claude Biver, the head of the Watches and Jewelry division of LVMH and the Chairman of luxury watch brand Hublot, accused Apple of trying to poach some of his best Hublot employees, it started a firestorm of speculation within the watch industry. What was Apple up to? It has long been anticipated that Apple will instantly become a major player in the burgeoning smartwatch category when it introduces its almost inevitable iWatch. Why was the company looking to Switzerland?

Although nobody knows when an iWatch will reach the market, almost everybody agrees that it is coming. With Apple’s design expertise and proven record at popularizing new technology, expectations for Apple’s upcoming smartwatch are high. The market clearly expects something spectacular from the Cupertino giant.

What the Swiss Have to Offer

While nobody expects Apple to include a tourbillon or a moon phase complication in its upcoming iWatch, there is still a lot that Swiss watch experts have to offer a potential smartwatch powerhouse. Watchmakers take metallurgy seriously. For hundreds of years, Swiss watchmakers have been experts at creating entirely new metals and alloys, just to solve a watchmaking problem.

Hublot Watch with Magic GoldOne of these high tech alloys is called Magic Gold, and it was developed by the very Hublot that Jean-Claude Biver says Apple was trying to raid. Magic Gold is a proprietary combination of ceramic and gold that Hublot has used to make watchcases virtually scratch proof. Is it just coincidence that Apple tried to license this special alloy for use in the iPhone 5 in 2013? Later that year, Apple released an all-new gold version of its popular phone and it is still looking for a way to make its cases scratchproof.

Some industry experts say that Apple may want their upcoming iWatch to say Swiss made on the dial. While this is a possibility, it is highly unlikely, since the company has always been extremely proud of its California roots. The term “Swiss made,” which has long been associated with high quality mechanical watches, would hold little value to a customer buying wearable technology. There are no springs and gears in a smartwatch and there never will be.

Swiss Expertise

What is more likely is that Apple is considering opening a new R&D facility in Switzerland. Steve Jobs was always fond of borrowing ideas from other disciplines and incorporating them in Apple designs. “Good artists copy. Great artists steal,” he said once, lending credence rumors that Apple actually is poaching talent from leading Swiss watchmakers.

It makes sense. The Swiss have been experts in manufacturing all sorts of things for hundreds of years. In Switzerland, Apple could recruit from an amazing pool of watchmaking talent. While Apple doesn’t need the Swiss to put a tourbillon in a smartwatch, they do need Swiss process engineering, ergonomics, metallurgy, and miniaturization expertise. Hiring the best talent they can find from well-respected companies like Hublot, might just give them the competitive edge they are looking for.

While it is fun to speculate whether your new iWatch will say “Swiss made” on the dial, the accusations of talent poaching do have serious implications. Watchmaking is a billion dollar industry and the market for wearable technology is potentially even larger. The Swiss should actually be happy that Apple is looking at them. If Apple hires a few watch experts from Hublot, it won’t hurt the industry. Instead, it will probably help. By acknowledging Swiss expertise, Apple is telling the world what watch aficionados have known all along: Swiss watchmakers are the best in the world at what they do.

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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Smart Sports Bands Projected to Grow by 350% in 2014

Girl Wearing a Fitbit Flex Smart Sports Band


by John Sealander  

Will the activity trackers of today set the stage for the smart watches of tomorrow, or will they preclude the need for smart watches?

Wearable smart bands, like the Nike Fuel, Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up, and others, have become incredibly popular during the past year. People from all walks of life wear these fitness trackers now and their popularity continues to grow at exponential rates. Much of this growth is very recent. In the first half of 2013 roughly 200,000 of these wearable smart bands were shipped. In the second half of 2013, that number skyrocketed to 1.6 million. Shipments could reach as high as 8 million bands in 2014 and over 23 million in 2015.

Although these numbers are still quite small compared to the total number of wristwatches shipped, the rate of growth is spectacular. Experts think that there’s a reason why wearable activity trackers have exploded in popularity, while smart watches continue to languish.

Smart Sports Bands Increasing Popularity

The current crop of wearable activity trackers meets a definite need. With today’s increased focus on health and fitness, people want to know how their daily activities impact their fitness goals. These inexpensive fitness trackers meet this need, by providing accurate and timely data about the distance we move, the calories we burn, and even our sleep patterns.

They are also very simple to use and tend to have great battery life compared to typical smart watches. High cost, limited battery life and the lack of useful software have been the primary concerns of early smart watch adopters. The fact that most of the currently available smart watches aren’t stand-alone devices and require a Bluetooth connected smartphone to take advantage of their “smart” features has hindered widespread adoption as well.

Simple, inexpensive wearable activity trackers have none of these drawbacks. The internal batteries in these devices can remain charged for up to ten days. Since smart sports bands are designed for a specific purpose, they are very easy to use. Interestingly, fitness bands are not at all fashion accessories but are used as tools that helps the wearer stay fit and healthy.

Are Smart Sports Bands Here to Stay?

The market for wearable activity trackers is expected to continue its rapid growth in response to society’s increased focus on fitness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The real question is whether the next generation of smart watches, including the inevitable iWatch from Apple, will usurp the simple fitness tracker by incorporating a similar set of features.

The jury is still out on this. Clearly, smart watches of the future will be able to track the wearer’s activities just as well as or even better than current smart bands like the Nike Fuel, Fitbit Flex, or Jawbone Up. What’s unclear at this time is whether people will be willing to pay more for the more complex smart watch.

The runaway success of today’s activity trackers has already proved that wearable technology is here to stay. It is expected that there will be one day a strong market for smart watches as well.

How popular will powerful new smart watches from Pebble, Apple, Sony, and Samsung become? That depends on whether people perceive them as a tool like an activity tracker, or a fashion accessory like a traditional wristwatch. If the general public ever decides that wearing a smart watch is cool, the market for these advanced devices will be almost unlimited.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupWatchmaker and wholesale watch distributor Gevril Group 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, Swiss and 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 Smart Watch Cometh?

Pebble Smart Watch


by Adrian Herscovici  

Why smart watches are not the future (for now)

Who here remembers the cartoon character Dick Tracy? Back in the 1940s, Tracy wore a watch that featured a two-way radio – perhaps the earliest reference to a so-called “smart watch.”

Seiko Data 2000In real life Seiko released the Data 2000 watch in 1983 – a wrist-mounted data-storage device that connected to a special keypad. It was one of the first watches with computing ability and one of the earliest smart watches. Did the Data 2000 change the way people wore watches? No, not at all; nor did any of the smart watches that came later including the Microsoft-developed SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) smart watches of the mid-2000s.

Today, after 30 years of development, smart watches are making bigger waves with new models arriving to market at a record pace. They are increasingly useful, wearable computers that work in tandem with our other devices. Smart watches run apps and play media; some already function as phones – much like Dick Tracy.

21st century wrist race

Why the sudden deluge? Surprisingly, it has little to do with demand; rather, the proliferation is due to advancements in technology and access to cheaper components. Oh, that and the fact that tech companies want to cash in, naturally.

Smart Watch Tied to PhoneBut smart watches come with some serious limitations. The biggest is they do everything your smart phones do, and less. A smart watch may assist you in managing your mobile device but it will not replace that device. So why bother? For looks? Doubt it.

Men, for example, already face a limited choice of fashion accessories. Watches are one of them, and a fashion-conscious guy takes his timepiece seriously. Smart watches are too busy trying to become relevant and functional to look sharp (and geek chic will only carry them so far). Furthermore, they require a significant display area, which means they all look more or less similar, relying on a few obvious physical differentiators to set them apart.

Smart watches need to win us over with utilitarian value, with functionality that offers us something more or completely different than what we already have. For now, they are less stylish than a wristwatch and less technologically useful than a smart phone. They defy obvious trends in usage, too, like the proclivity towards larger screens – unlike a smart phone, which pushes the limits of our pockets, purses and attachés, a smart watch cannot grow the size of our wrists.

Impact on mechanical and quartz watches

Samsung Galaxy Gear and Classic WatchAmong watch insiders and enthusiasts, the talk is of course about the impact of a smart watch revolution on traditional wristwatches, and whether or not it will lead to their becoming obsolete. The fact is, mechanical watches enjoy immense popularity today because they are obsolete. People wear them because they love the artistry and lengthy history associated with mechanical watchmaking.

Quartz watches should also have diminished in popularity by now in our smart-device world: people could easily leave them at home, relying instead on their smart phone to tell time. But people like the way they look, and with annual global sales in the billions, quartz watches seem to have a rather strong following, too.

Smart devices are here to stay; smart watches, well, maybe. (Starfleet, after all, preferred the smart brooch.) In the next several years we will undoubtedly see advancements. If smart watches do become an accepted innovation, they will likely phase in to our lives over time – there will be early adopters; others will wade in when their professional life requires it; and still more when the applications become the norm.

But the time-honored mechanical wristwatch is no danger of disappearing, nor is the ever-practical quartz watch. We like what they represent and the way they look. Smart watches – well, for now, they’re just gadgets.

About Gevril Group

Gevril GroupWatchmaker and wholesale watch distributor Gevril Group 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, Swiss and 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.