Luxury goods maker Montblanc signed up Orange as its first connectivity provider in Europe for a forthcoming eSIM-enabled smartwatch, a deal which ticks a number of boxes for the operator in terms of tariff strategy, OS compatibility and advancing the GSMA-backed SIM standard.

In a statement, Orange explained the deal pitches it as the first operator in the world to remotely connect eSIM “with on device service activation” on a product running Google’s WearOS. The arrangement will make the process of a smartwatch connecting to a mobile network “seamless and fully digitalised”, while proving Orange’s “leadership in driving the adoption of eSIM connectivity” using a standard GSMA implementation.

eSIM is a global specification by the GSMA which enables remote installation of SIMs onto devices, doing away with physical installation of plastic cards.

The operator added this would “act as a catalyst to extend remote activation” and mobile connectivity “on many more wearable devices and further smartwatch categories”.

Despite those claims, though, Orange noted it would not offer standalone tariffs for the high-end wearable. Instead, it will offer connection as an extension of its multi-SIM billing approach, enabling smartphone subscribers to operate Summit 2+ on their current package, sharing the phone number and data allowance while receiving a single bill.

It noted the smartwatch will “operate autonomously, without the need for the smartphone to be nearby”.

Orange said the Summit 2+ “adds a new dimension” to a growing range of smartwatches it offers. Customers will be able to use the device for making calls, messaging, voice dictation, and accessing notifications “from social networks and other smartphone apps”.

Speaking to Mobile World Live, Orange equipment and partnerships SVP Philippe Lucas said smartwatch is a “good step forward to do more devices with eSIM” and the operator will be gradually rolling out eSIM compatibility across its footprint.

Lucas added the operator is seeing an upward trend with eSIM and it is expanding “to other device categories that’s why we have to embrace this technology”.

The device itself builds on the Montblanc Summit 2 launched in January 2019, featuring GPS, a larger 440mAh battery and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform, which Orange said makes it the first smartwatch running the US chip maker’s kit to offer mobile connectivity.

Beyond this, the Summit 2+ adds fitness tracking covering activity, calories burned, distance travelled and heartrate monitoring, among others.

Orange will put the unit on sale during Q2. While it offered no details on pricing, the Summit 2 typically retails for around £845 or higher.