The Baselworld 2016 watch show this week saw a flurry of smartwatch activity, across fashion brands and tech-focused players.
The reason for the flurry of activity is clear: according to Strategy Analytics, more smartwatches shipped in Q4 2015 than Swiss watches, with tech vendors such as Apple and Samsung luring watch buyers away from established brands.
According to reports, Jean-Claude Biver, head of watches for LVMH, acknowledged the company “totally underestimated demand” for its first Tag Heuer-branded device, and it is now looking to offer “a real collection” of smartwatches in the near future.
Another LVMH brand, Hublot, is also likely to join the market.
At Baselworld, fashion brand Michael Kors unveiled its first wearable devices, in the shape of its Access watch. According to reports, the product has been developed in partnership with Fossil, which manufactures watches using the Kors brand.
Fossil has already said it intends launching “more than 100 connected devices” this year, across a number of brands. Indicating its commitment to the market, Fossil has acquired wearables company Misfit.
Fossil used Baselworld to showcase its “slimmer Android Wear smartwatches”, Q Wander and Q Marshal, which will launch later this year for $275. It also has an action tracker in the pipeline – Q Motion – which delivers notifications through haptic vibrations and LED lights.
And it is also promising to offer “smart analogue watches”, which offer alerts and notifications, being described as “the ultimate convergence of fashion and technology”.
Access is powered by Android Wear, with “glamorous versions for women and sporty versions for men”. It also includes exclusive watch faces, and will be available later this year from $395.
Specialist vendor Nixon claimed “the world’s first ultra-rugged, action sports smartwatch”, called The Mission. The Qualcomm-powered device “features a suite of custom applications tailored to action sports, as well as industry-leading durability and a category-first 10-ATM (100 meter) water resistance rating”.
Samsung, meanwhile, partnered with watchmaker de Grisogono to deliver a limited-edition Gear S2 release using “gold and precious jewels”. It will be available later this year; pricing was not revealed.