In an attempt to widen the market for smartwatches, tech companies are reaching for gold, platinum and crystals.
At CES in Las Vegas, Samsung unveiled two new versions of its Gear S2 classic watch, one plated in 18-carat rose gold and the other in platinum. It also said it was working with designers including Colombo on ‘premium’ straps for the watch, and new faces that include artworks from Keith Haring, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Jeremyville and Burton Morris. The new watches will go on sale in February but no pricing has been released.
Also at CES, Huawei showed off its more glamorous take on the smartwatch, with new releases “aimed at women who sparkle and shine”.
Its new Jewel and Elegant editions smartwatches feature a rose gold-plated case studded with 68 Swarovski Zirconia, each measuring 1.5mm in size, while the Elegant edition has what the company describes as a “knurled pattern effect” around its rose gold-plated case.
The watches come with Italian leather straps, available in pearl white and sapphire blue, and a face coated with scratch-proof sapphire crystal, which Huawei noted is favoured “amongst high-end Swiss brands”. The watches will go on sale across 20 countries in March.
Both companies are following a trail blazed by Apple, which offers some very luxurious versions of its smartwatch. While the cheapest Apple Watch will set you back a mere £299, its gold ‘Edition’ versions can cost as much as £13,500 for the 18-carat yellow gold case with a ‘bright red modern buckle’, which comes with 54g of gold. Apple has also got designer straps on its Apple Watch Hermès, which features a Hermès-branded face and an extra long ‘Double Tour’ strap for £1150.
All smartwatch companies are trying to shift the devices out of the geeky early adopter and fitness categories where they have been stubbornly stuck for the last couple of years and into the mainstream. The make-over is also aimed at persuading more women to buy them. However, for many potential users the limited battery life and lack of obvious killer application is likely to mean that buying a smartwatch is still a tough purchasing decision, however many crystals these gadgets are studded with.