back to article Time has already run out for smart watches

It's been a big year for smart watches. First, rumours that Apple glanced at its wrist and imagined what an iWatch might look like hit the web. This week at CES Toshiba showed off a smart watch, as did a clutch of aspiring watchmakers like Cookoo, Martian and I'm Watch. Then the long-awaited Pebble watch with ePaper for a face …

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I already own a great watch

...It;s called a Nokia Lumia 900.

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Re: I already own a great watch

Pretty sure that's a phone mate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I already own a great watch

"Pretty sure that's a phone mate"

Nope, he was right first time.

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Re: I already own a great watch

A few elastic bands and it will fit the wrist.

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Facepalm

Funny how these things go full circle

The wrist watch became popular because it was seen as more convenient to have your watch on your wrist, rather than carrying a pocket watch.

Nowadays many people don't bother with a watch. Instead they rely on their phone, which they keep in their pocket....

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Silver badge

Re: Funny how these things go full circle

The wrist watch became popular during WWI where they were often issued because fiddling with your pocket watch increased the chances of accidentally poking your head up and getting a bullet in your face.

Prior to the war wristwatches were almost exclusively a women's fashion accessory & were extremely popular.

The wristwatch is another example of innovation through war.

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Facepalm

Re: Funny how these things go full circle

Hang on...looking DOWN to find a pocket watch and looking DOWN to read it makes one's head go UP and get shot in the face?

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Happy

Re: Funny how these things go full circle

Is it living this long or remembering THAT far back.....

Fuck.... I should just shut up and do house work....

But I remember going to school one day, once upon a time, far far away in another galaxy....

And another kid had a CALCULATOR digital watch....

Yes... a kind of basic calculator, in a watch case, on a wrist, that one pressed the keys of it, with the tip of a pen.

And in the 30 odd years since.....

I think I have met about 3 other people in my entire life, who have ever worn them.....

Something about TINY, Fiddly, Many Features in a Minescule Package....

I just think that some times, it is really necessary to divest ones self of a significant degree of onboard tech...

This is bullshit.......

“Functionality-aside, a watch also epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication,” said Tham May Ling, head of personal accessories at analyst outfit Euromonitor International.

Prestige is a way to publicly masturbate ones insecurities, while being ripped off big time in the process, for mostly worthless crap.

Beyond the 5 fundamentals, such as food, water, warmth, shelter, and kinship, everything else is just "stuff" - and beyond the 5 fundamentals, you really don't need much to be happy - only the advertisers manipulate you to the Nth degree, to convince you otherwise - so you can get sucked in to spend more than ever.

I despise the smart watch fads, and only wear a Seiko Divers watch, electric ones go "spastic" on me with their time keeping, and this is a mechanical self winder. It's hermetically sealed, and the seals only ought to be replaced every 3 years, but that is only if you never wear it in any environment that rots seals, and or repeatedly open the hand and date adjustment, so the seals get exposed.

If I accidentally let mine run down from not being worn for a few days, I set an timer that goes off 5 minutes before the right time, and then pick the watch up, give it a good shake to wind it up and then back into business for another few months.

It keeps good time. ONE watch will last me my whole life. It has big glow in the dark hands, and it easy to read. It is really tough and durable.

As far as all the fashion trend setter bullshit goes......

This is about 20 years ago... or something like that - and this is what a conjob the fashion industry is.

The TAG - Heuer watches, left the factory for about $150 each. The importer into Australia, marked them up and sold them to the retailer for about $1000 each. The retailer sold them to the consumer for about $3000 each.

Despite the "luxury item" (conjob) status the watches had, they only had 12 months warranty on them, just like the shit box $5 watches from the flea markets.

"a watch also epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication" - and a grossly overpriced time keeper, for the most part, simply shows how stupid you are.

"Oh look at me, I have a $500,000 Italian Sports car that can do 300Kmh.... in a country with a speed limit of 100Kmh...... And look at me, I have a shit box Datsun that did cost me $500 and easily keeps within the speed limit.....

Luxury = $495,000 worth of stupid.

Smiley - the cosmic joke is that self is the wealth.

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Re: Funny how these things go full circle

Here in the US (Silicon Valley area), I see maybe 1 in 50 high school kids wearing a watch and maybe 1 in 20 college students.. Now if the next generation isn't wearing watches and instead using their smart phones to tell time, what are the chances that they'll adopt ugly, wristwatches to do 1/1000 of what their phone already does? And for way more the cost (considering rebates, etc.)? Dumb idea and a good example of technology just because you can. BTW, I'll take an Omega Seamaster 007 Edition over a drawer-full of these things any day.

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Thumb Up

Re: Funny how these things go full circle

Hmm, don't know what happened to my marking you Plus...

I agree entirely.

I have a basic but excellent quality Omega, bought for me 40+ years ago by my Dad (duty free on a trip). Manual winding, manual date adjustment for short months. Clear view, keeps excellent time. I get it serviced maybe every couple of years.

Functional, basic practical - gee maybe this business of watches being an extension of your personality has something to it!

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xyz
Devil

I'm still waiting for someone to develop a portable hub...you know all the gubbins of a smart phone without the interface bits, then I can bluetooth my earpiece, screen only tablet and wrist number pad (worn on the inside of the wrist so it looks cool) to it. Then my hub can sit in a pocket out of sight. That way I can swap out my interface bits easily as fashions change. Just sayin'....

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Devil

@xyz - Good idea in theory

In practice - not so much. You need a battery per device and they will all run out at different times making it royal PITA to use.

The watch had a golden opportunity - the time when sub-3 inc size was the norm so people looked at a 4-5 inch screen in the phone spec and asked "Are you out of your mind".

That time has passed. My technophobic SWMBO used to show a set of venomous fangs at the mere mentioning of something bigger than a mid 2000-es slider/clamshell. She laughed at me when I got my Arc S a year ago. She is now happily carrying an Xperia J which is the same size as an Arc and she is not alone in that. People are holding 5 inch blowers and happily using them as phones (or to be more exact "as we use phones today"). This pretty much kills the rationale of a second display outright for most users.

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Re: @xyz - Good idea in theory

Last week El Reg highlighted a flexible panel that could act as a tablet touch-screen, I think that would be ace for this application. Rather than a 'watch' form factor (too tiny to do anything useful on), think of a large bracelet (sort of Predator's control panel bracelet). Battery and non-flexible gubbins can be fitted around the bottom part of the wrist, while the top part could easily accommodate a 4" screen. It wouldn't be suitable for a lot of things of course (anything that requires sustained staring at the screen), but as a combination of watch + media device + control panel (+phone with an added headset) it could work great. Plus maybe you can slip it off and fletten it out to do any more serious reading or other concentrated usage.

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I'm halfway there

Bluboard, earpiece, write remote display.

The phone only comes out of pocket to play Angry Birds :)

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It won't fly in the mainstream if you're thinking about it like a tablet...the interface is too small. Pair it up with something like a miniaturised LEAP controller and a HUD display and they might get popular; when technology allows.

Of course, you're stuck with the bluetooth headset and apparently bellowing into thin air; which is always going to be off-putting.

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Paris Hilton

"watchmakers like Cockoo, Martian and I'm Watch"

"I'm Watch, and me tell you the time!"

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Anonymous Coward

Mens watches are jewelery

A proper watch is a symbol of power, affluence and refiinement.. A functional article worn to be seen confiring dignity and respect upon its owner..

Something you're not likely to find at the CES. Not bling, instead Art.

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery

Agreed. Potentially, once epaper (or similar non-backlit display) has a high enough resolution, colour range, and refresh rate, it could have the appearance of a normal (albeit completely flat) watch, but respond to gestures to occasionally perform smart functions...

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Coat

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

sorry, my current casio is also monochrome...

but is also charges from solar, syncs time with DCF-77,... If these smart watches start managing these simple things a normal watch does, I'll look again.

Mine is the one with the nokia n900 (maemo) smartphone in the left pocket (holding out 2 days in use or 3+ days on very light use, 7+ days in standby (no internet))

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

In Hong Kong in 1993 people were using mobile phones that were bricks compared to the then current technology. There was also a booming market in fake Rolex watches.

There was a cultural thing about displaying what you apparently could afford. It probably hasn't changed all that much in many parts of the world since then.

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery

Totally agree,

my wife brought me a nice watch last christmas, cost more than my phone and was brought from a jewellery store... Its a beautiful watch, and practical..

I expect this watch to last me 20+ years, I expect my phone to last me 2-3 years....

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Unhappy

Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

"A proper watch is a symbol of ..."

..vanity, bad taste, affectation, and excessive disposable income. Or so I've come to learn from the adverts in publications like the FT's revolting "How to spend it" magazine.

Look at all those w@nky watches sold for the price of a small car, promoted through adverts featuring handsome smiling pilots, or jet fighters doing aerobatics. Or "diving" watches sold to people who wouldn't even know which way to unscrew a SCUBA valve. Total s***, as are most of the people wearing 'em.

Fair enough to those people with proper, real mechanical watches from a company with pedigree that don't have all that bling. I'd quite like a Piaget myself, but as a pauper I have to settle for a Seiko 5 (at least it ticks and doesn't have a battery).

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery

No they're not, they're a device for telling the time (and gradually falling out of favour, to be replaced by the ubiquitous mobile phone).

Would anyone who agrees with the statement that the watch "epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication" kindly step into the nearest meat grinder? Anyone who views their phone/car/TV/house/wife the same way, can form an orderly queue behind them.

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Happy

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

"Would anyone who agrees with the statement that the watch "epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication" kindly step into the nearest meat grinder? "

Quality, sir, quality!

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

>..vanity, bad taste, affectation, and excessive disposable income. Or so I've come to learn from the adverts in publications like the FT's revolting "How to spend it"

I read once that most of the CEOs of the top 100 companies wore Timex watches... a sign that they were about making money, not spending it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

"I read once that most of the CEOs of the top 100 companies wore Timex watches... a sign that they were about making money, not spending it."

A nice tale, but not true of the small number with whom I've worked (about eight past and present FTSE 100 chairmen and CEOs, and two or thee FD's). Certainly they weren't into vanity watches, but they did tend to have reasonably respectable timepieces - typically a basic Rolex. That's still a bit garish for my tastes, but not as bad as anything by Reitbling with a million subsidiary dials, or anything by the new kids on the watch block.

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery

Downvoted for saying "brought from".

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery

Deny it all you like, but the studies have been done and the results are in. An extraordinarily expensive wristwatch is a common way that men who are happy (and capable of) spending 20000 pounds on a wristwatch signal this fact to distinguish themselves from men who are not.

It gets the response you'd expect; most men who notice (and don't have such a watch themselves) assert that's it's just a stupid waste of money, most women who notice agree that it's a stupid waste of money BUT, of course, the intent has been signaled and the man is significantly more attractive now that it's clear he has that kind of money to throw around. Communication of status has always been the purpose of jewellery.

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Facepalm

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

Although in my experience the reality is more along the lines of -

People who can afford to spend thousands of pounds on a wrist watch generally have the personality of a plank of wood, are arrogant wankers and completely obsessed with finding a way to make a profit out of every situation they are involved in. Someone spending thousands of pounds on a watch is very similar to someone buying a sports car - it says more about what they haven't got than what they have......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

The best MD I ever worked with once said he would like to have enough money to walk into a Bentley showroom and buy anything on offer for cash. And then keep the money for something useful.

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

Why settle for a Seiko 5, why not go totally retro, my fully jewelled movement Seiko dating from the late 1970's is still going fine!

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery

If you've ever looked at a Tourbillon, you'd agree it's jewellery in its intricate complexity.

Not the tacky stuff like fancy straps and blingy dials.

A Tourbillon is about poetry in motion - and even the cheap chinese ones start at about £1200 quid.

No, they're not more accurate than a quartz watch (but they can get close). That isn't the point of one.

It's more like the point of loving a steam locomotive.

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Re: Mens watches are jewelery

"BUT, of course, the intent has been signaled and the man is significantly more attractive now that it's clear he has that kind of money to throw around"

Translation:

"MONEY - Viagra for women."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

and yet wearing jewellery is both effeminate and a sign of trying to hard too impress. So not something that real men wear, more like the kind of thing that 'media' sorts and other undesirables wear.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

Would those be the studies funded by the makers of 'jewellery watches' by any chance?

"communication of status has always been the purpose of jewellery" - which is why chavs wear chains around their necks and thugs sovereign rings on their finger, and wearing only one earring means you're a homosexual?

Studies show that the 'status' you're trying to communicate doesn't always work in the way intend and is rarely universal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mens watches are jewelery

How sexy are train spotters?

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not done right

Saying that smart watches don't convey sophistication is only because they have not been done right yet. I am sure Apple or perhaps a decent digital watch brand like Suunto could make it look classy.

The problem with smart watches at present is that they're just miniaturizing smart phones. For a watch, you need an interface specifically designed to work on a very small form factor. You need battery life of weeks or months, or kinetic/solar charging, because you want to be able to wear a constantly without thinking about charging. It needs to be waterproof. And you need it miniaturized to the point where it can be worn on a daily basis without sticking out like a sore thumb. Nobody is going to want to have both a phone AND a watch they need to charge nightly. So if it really does need daily charging, it has to replace a smartphone, not just augment it.

I think we're probably still a few years away from having the technology to do it well, which is probably why Apple is avoiding it at present. Like most tech, they'll sit on the sidelines, watch others experiment, and then come in with something just at the right time when the technology is up to scratch and the market is there for the taking.

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Re: not done right

"I am sure Apple or perhaps a decent digital watch brand like Suunto could make it look classy."

EXACTLY.

A watch is a consumer item. Consumers frequently buy on the basis of the "image" the item is perceived to impart to them. I could name one company that understands this and has been exploiting it ever since.

Examples of 'style over content' consumption include the original iPod - a large, clunky, ugly looking device that Apple sold on image. Beats Audio - oversized headphones with bog-standard technology that Monster have sold on image. The list goes on...

Everyone remembers Dick Tracey's wristwatch for a reason - it was a cool/must-have device. I think these nay-sayers are wrong, just like those that said the iPad was just another tablet and would never take off.

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Re: not done right

An smartwatch that looks like a normal watch... I'm thinking of that Tissot watch that just analogue hands. However, if you pushed 3 o'clock, the hands rotated to indicate altitude, press 6 o'clock and it became a compass.

I think that the functionality I would want from a smart watch would stretch to no more that it acting as a remote control for a phone or media payer, and to alert me to incoming texts or calls. Neither should require too much power, or too ugly a design.

Whilst this analyst says smartwatches won't work, I think a watch-sized smart-dongle would.... I'm thinking of those women who have to reach into the bottom of massive handbags to get their phone; a dongle would clip to the strap. If more phones are docked to provide music or video, the dongle would provide the remote-control convenience we are used to.

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Re: not done right

>Examples of 'style over content' consumption include the original iPod - a large, clunky, ugly looking device that Apple sold on image.

Large, clunky and ugly? You're thinking of the Creative Nomad that was modelled on portable CD player. The iPod was about the same size or smaller than the products it replaced- cassette Walkmans, portable CD players, and on a par with many MD payers (though of course you carried extra MDs with you). Its size was largely dictated by the little Toshiba HDD inside it, though IBM had been touting their matchbox-like Microdrive. Small, flash-based players like the Rio were around at the time, but in small capacities and hadn't yet become ubiquitous like the older removable-medium devices. Later competing products using the same HDD, such as the iRiver H320, Creative Zen or Sony were the same size as the iPod.

Apple sold it on the basis that it was 5 GB (though they expressed it in terms of albums), fitted in your pocket and was easy to use.

(I didn't have an iPod, I had the Zen which failed cos the headphone socket was soldered directly onto the main PCB, the little Archos Gmini XS that failed, and the iRiver H320 that failed after being dropped but was revived by transplanting a HDD out of a dead iPod, Rockboxed and later stolen)

I agree with you on Beats Audio (and Monster's AV cables) though.

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Re: not done right

Charging should become less of an issue with decent wireless charging. Most people take their watch off when going to bed anyway, and whatever nightstand they dump it on should charge it, without them having to think about it or mess around with cables.

That said, the longer life the better, of course.

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FAIL

As Cartman said

Screw You! I have pre-ordered my Pebble which actually looks good as well as having some functionality.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As Cartman said

Actually that does look like it'll be a nice every day watch, might have to grab one of those!

I am not opposed to tech in watches, but it has better look good!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As Cartman said

Looks good - it's looks like crap - the sort of thing that came out of a cracker.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As Cartman said

You're one crazy white boy, I don't shit watches.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As Cartman said

Got to agree, I almost came after seeing one. Ordering one now.

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Maybe they will be niche articles maybe not. The $10M+ that pebble have received in backing shows there is at least reasonable interest given that the device wasn't even out when they got that.

I've got to say that the increase in phone sizes probably adds to the reason for wanting these. They start to not fit all that well into your jeans pockets without creating unsightly bulges so I stick my phone in a less convenient jacket pocket or bag. I've ordered a pebble so I can glance at my watch to see if its yet another junk email/ PPI claim text or if its something I might want to pay attention to. Not to mention being able to change the music volume/track without having to pull my phone out perhaps when I'm cycling.

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Bronze badge

That's the area where a smartwatch might add something to the mix. But it still clashes with the jewelry factor. A watch doesn't quite have to be effective to sell but it had better look good.

Back in the early days of the digital watch, it was the digital aspect that was cool. Then the overall look came to be more important. Now we have watches with bezels that look as though they should rotate, and don't.

There's something tempting about the idea of a smartwatch which will actually do something useful, instead of just looking cool.

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In that regard I have a nice watch that I use when I wear my smart stuff - purely mens jewellery in that regard since when I wear it I probably don't want to pull my phone out to tell the time.

The pebble is my day-to-day watch, it looks good enough for that and will hopefully serve its purpose well.

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>Now we have watches with bezels that look as though they should rotate, and don't.

I love watches with rotating bezels... it is the quickest, most natural way of setting a reminder of when you must return to your car to avoid a parking fine.

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