Would the timepiece of your dreams combine the quality and craftsmanship of a fine luxury watch with the cool features of a smartwatch? This mythical timepiece does not yet exist but Montblanc is introducing a compromise—a luxury watch with an optional “smartband.”
According to sources, Montblanc has revealed a new add-on for the Timewalker Urban Speed Collection. The e-Strap comes with a panel containing a 0.9” OLED touchscreen that allows users to connect with their smartphones in many of the ways that smartwatches do.
The small screen located on the underside of the band lets you control your phone’s camera and music as well as receive notifications when you have text messages or calls. The e-Strap works with both iOS and Android via an app for each.
Montblanc touts the e-Strap as being shock and splash resistant, and since it sits on the underside of the wrist, it better be. Only time will tell whether users will damage the device by banging it on every surface in which they come into contact.
Another potential annoyance is the notification system, which gives the user a vibrating alert when a new call or message comes in. It remains to be seen whether the app that comes with the e-Strap will give users to option of choosing other methods of notification.
Battery life is an important issue when choosing a wearable device and Montblanc claims the e-Strap can go five days before requiring a charge. A micro-USB charging port is built into the internal lithium ion battery so charging should be simple, provided you didn’t leave the connecting cord at home.
This optional gadget doesn’t come cheap, but in the world of luxury watches, what does? Watches from Montblanc’s Timewalker Urban Speed Collection range in price from approximately $3,000 to $5,000 with the addition of the e-Strap adding another $300.
Yes, $300 is just $50 less than the starting price of the Apple Watch that is due to come out in a few months. For the cost of buying a Montblanc Timewalker Urban Speed watch with the additional e-Strap you could instead buy the same watch plus just about any smartwatch out there.
Still, kudos to Montblanc for taking a step in the right direction by introducing the first “smart” wearable from a luxury watch brand. As much as some of them would like to, the makers of luxury watches can’t just bury their heads in the sand and ignore the smartwatch market.
The Consumer Electronics Show comes to Las Vegas this week, bringing with it our first look at some of the most desirable tech and electronics products of 2015. Among them will be at least a few wearable devices that will have to compete with the Apple Watch for the dollars of consumers over the next few months. The smartwatch market is still developing and it’s too soon to tell whether Montblanc’s hybrid luxury/smart timepiece will set the standard for future models from other watchmakers.