The smartwatch market has been doing well of late. The category currently makes up a third of the wearables market in terms of shipment volume, but two-thirds in terms of spend due to their higher average prices. In five years time, smartwatches will account for almost two out of every five wearable devices shipped.
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Baselworld 2018 kicked off last Thursday and concludes tomorrow. This is an event organised each spring in the city of Basel, Switzerland which attracts top watchmakers and jewellery makers from around the world. It will host some 700 exhibitors and more than 100,000 visitors this year.
Last year we ran a piece on the top 25 smartwatches and hybrids of Baselworld. This year, we couldn’t round up even 10! There is definitely much less smartwatch activity compared to last year which goes against the rise in their popularity. With the recent arrival of Wear OS, perhaps manufacturers are gearing up to launch new devices in the second half of the year.
Whatever the case, here is a gallery and brief description of the smartwatches and hybrids we did manage to round up.
Hublot Big Bang Referee
Hublot showed off the official smartwatch of Fifa World Cup 2018. Called The Big Bang Referee, this is a limited edition timepiece that runs Wear OS and comes with an assortment of World Cup-themed goodies.
In the run-up to the tournament, the watch displays a countdown to the competition. During live matches, it will show the score, the number of cards, names of goal-scorers, player substitutions and time left before the final whistle. The Big Bang Referee will even vibrate and show the word GOAL whenever someone scores.
A special non-commercial version of the timepiece is going to be worn by referees at the tournament. In addition to all the above functionality, it will have the ability to interface with goal-line technology.
A rather hefty $5,200 price tag comes attached to the watch. The Swiss company is releasing a limited run of 2018 pieces, starting on May 1st. If you miss out, don’t fret. You could probably use that money and buy yourself a ticket to Russia and watch the games live!
Holst is Skagen’s third analogue watch. This is a minimalist timepiece with a clean design that features a 40mm case size and comes in two separate models. As shown in the image above, one comes with a dark grey watch face and metal strap, the other with a dark blue face and leather strap. What they have in common is that they are both made of titanium, so are very slim and super lightweight.
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This watch is more about elegance and style rather than fitness tracking, but you do get some activity stats. The watch is capable of letting you know when someone calls or texts by vibrating and using the dial to point to pre-defined numbers for different contacts.
Skagen has not revealed the full specs yet or the exact release date, but we are expecting for it to land in the summer. As for the price, the leather strap version will cost $175, with the metal version set to retail for $20 more.
Alpina Alpiner X
A hugely successful Kickstarter backed project, this rugged, smartwatch represents a blend of Alpina heritage and modernism.
The gizmo is packed full of outdoors features thanks to multiple sensors including: UV, temperature, altitude, pressure, meteo, motion and direction. The functions are measured in real time by the watch and displayed on the digital display. The watch will keep tabs on your activity 24/7, regardless whether you are on ski slopes, deep in the woods or climbing a mountain. And it will do this with style.
If you are an outdoorsy person who appreciates the aesthetics and the craftsmanship at the heart of Swiss watchmaking, this sporty watch might float your boat. The timepiece is set to ship to its Kickstarter backers in May, with retail availability to follow shortly after. Its price starts at $450.
Mondaine Helvetica Regular
We’ve seen a follow up to the Mondaine Helvetica 1. Released back in 2015, the original is a stylish Swiss made hybrid which offers some basic fitness tracking. The company has followed this up with an updated version which finally adds notifications.
If you receive a message or telephone call, the hour hand will point to letters on the dial. This will help you understand what type of alert you received. Not groundbreaking functionality, but progress nevertheless.
The watch is 40mm in diameter, so 4mm smaller and its based on the Helvetica Bold font rather than Regular font. Battery life is still an awesome 2 years.
The watch was announced last year but is only ready to ship now. Look for it to land in the coming weeks for $660.
A new special edition of the Casio WSD-F20 debuted at Baselworld. With the addition of a sapphire crystal display, it features an even more rugged and durable design than the original. The actual features are exactly the same, so don’t look for something new – you won’t find it.
This is a limited edition product and only 700 will be made available in late June. The original version of this watch costs $500, so expect this to retail slightly above this price.
Swedish smartwatch creator Kronaby has recently updated its Apex collection. The new timepiece comes with two sub-dials, along with more customisation options. Its features now include the option to have a 24-hour GMT second timezone, show weekday, date and step/activity goal percentage. The company is also rolling out seven new watches in its Sekel collection and one new one in its Nord range.
Kronaby has also announced a partnership with bPay, a contactless payment system. The company announced it will look to integrate contactless payments into its watches in select markets from May.
All of the new hybrids will be put out on sale in mid-April.
Larsson & Jennings Connect
For the first time ever, the fashion brand Larsson & Jennings made an appearance at Baselworld. One of its devices on show is a hybrid smartwatch, another first for the company.
The Larsson & Jennings Connect is a super-thin, stylish hybrid. For now the company is only showing prototypes. When it comes out later this year, there will be a 42mm and 38mm case to choose from.
The work is still very much in progress but expect the final product to be more about fashion than super-sophisticated functionality. The minimalist device will feature notifications via a single flashing light, some basic fitness tracking functionality and possibly even UV levels.
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