If you read my review of the Casio Edifice Smartwatch then you’ll know my opinion on the majority of smartwatches available today. It’s fair to say that the main manufacturers focus on functionality over beauty – which is admirable – but why should consumers need to make that choice?
The Casio Edifice was one of the first smartwatches with a mix of style and substance, but over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen the announcement of a beautiful watch that looks like it will blow the competition out of the water!
Introducing the Mondaine Helvetica No. 1 Smart
On the 26th of February Swiss manufacturer Mondaine announced the first ever Swiss-made smartwatch – the Mondaine Helvetica No. 1 Smart.
Mondaine are best known for producing the iconic Official Swiss Railway Watch range, based on the Swiss Railway Clock which was designed in 1944 by Hans Hilfiker. The Swiss Railway Clock has become a Swiss national icon and has won numerous awards for Mondaine since they put it onto wrist watches in 1986.
Mondaine also have a range inspired by another Swiss national icon – the 1950’s typeface Helvetica.
The Helvetica font was created in 1957 by Max Mieinger and was originally named Neue Haas Grotesk, thankfully in 1960 it was given the name that it is known by today.
Now, I know the phrase “a rose by any name would smell as sweet,” but I think the Neue Haas Grotesk range would have been about as popular as Rocky 5!
The Mondaine Helvetica No. 1 smartwatch shares its design with rest of the Helvetica range of watches, which use variations on the typeface in light and bold, but with a slight difference. A statement from Mondaine explained:
“At first glance its dial bears little resemblance to the blinking LED screens of its competitors of smartwatches; it just looks like a regular Mondaine Helvetica Bold. The clue lies in the subdial at six o’clock. This isn’t a small-seconds or an annual calendar, but an analogue representation of the smart technology that is at the heart of this unique timepiece.”
The watch sports a brushed-steel case, white face, sapphire crystal glass cover, a premium leather strap and it looks absolutely stunning!
But it isn’t just design where this watch appears to be a winner, it has fantastic functionality too!
What Makes it Special?
This watch is one of a new range of Swiss Horological Smartwatches made in collaboration with Manufacture Movements Technologies (MMT), Andre Bernheim, CEO of Mondaine, explained:
“Don’t forget Mondaine, founded by our father in 1951, introduced one of the world’s first LCD and LED watches and now we are doing something which is the next step in today’s watch industry. This is the first-ever Swiss-made horological smartwatch. It is a world first and Mondaine is proud to be at the forefront of this new technology, thanks to a collaboration with MMT.”
MMT is a Swiss Joint Venture SARL formed by Fullpower Technologies of Silicon Valley and Union Horlogere Holdings (who own Frederique Constant and Aplina). According to the MotionX website, “their mission is to bring the MotionX Horological Smartwatch Open Platform to the Swiss watch industry.”
This is the first time that the MotionX platform has been incorporated into a watch. If you’ve never heard of MotionX before – it is the same technology that is found in wearables produced by Jawbone and Nike.
The technology provides top quality sleep tracking and activity tracking. It includes state or the art sensors, an incredible motion recognition engine and the power to track sleep patterns within 95% accuracy of Professional Polysomnography Sleep Machines!
It will also come with a smartphone app which you can sync the phone to; the app will take the data gained from monitoring your activity, use it to better understand you and then provide you with adaptive coaching suited to your needs.
The MotionX platform will help guide you so that you can start to make improvements towards a much healthier lifestyle.
With all of that functionality you’d imagine that the battery would be as short as England’s World Cup run. Well, you’ll be glad to know that the smartwatch the quartz module inside the watch will give it a battery life of 2 years!
The Apple Factor
The other big smartwatch launch this year is that of the Apple iWatch, its highly anticipated launch is expected to overshadow any other smartwatch release this year and Morgan Stanley predicted that sales will be in the region of 30-60 Million units!
There’s no doubt that the release of the iWatch has ramped up pressure on Swiss manufacturers to get into the smartwatch market; prior smartwatch releases lacked the style of traditional wrist watches and weren’t really aimed at traditional luxury watch buyers, this gave the Swiss brands a big advantage. However, the iWatch is expected to do for smartwatches what the iPod did for MP3 players by using stylish design and the pull of the Apple brand to make smartwatches cool.
Apple knew the trouble their release was going to cause for Swiss watch manufacturers, as an article in the New York Times explained, “According to a designer who works at Apple, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, in bragging about how cool he thought the iWatch was shaping up to be, gleefully said Switzerland is in trouble — though he chose a much bolder term for ‘trouble’ to express how he thought the watchmaking nation might be in a tough predicament when Apple’s watch comes out.”
However, Mondaine have responded perfectly by bringing out a watch that will appeal to those who prefer the classic Swiss watch design and have put together what appears to be the best looking smartwatch ever made!
It’s certainly going to be a very interesting battle between Apple and the Swiss watch manufacturers and interestingly enough, it is not the first time they have locked horns with each other. In 2009 Apple included a clock design that very closely resembled the Swiss Railway Clock as part of iOS 6, Mondaine threatened to take Apple to court because they hadn’t obtained any license to display the Swiss Railway Clock image.
The case ended up being settled out of court with Apple paying a reported 22.5 million Swiss Francs to Mondaine to continue using the design.
So, technically you could say that in the Mondaine Vs Apple stakes, it’s currently 1-0 to the Swiss team!
Admittedly, there isn’t much competition for great looking smartwatches at the moment, the only competitors being the Casio Edifice and the upcoming Apple iWatch – but with its beautiful design and premium build the Mondaine Helvetica No. 1 Smart appears to be by far the best looking smartwatch to date.
Of course, whether it’s the best looking smartwatch of all time will remain to be seen, especially as more Swiss smartwatches from the MMT collaboration are released.
The prototype of the device will be shown off at Baselworld 2015 later this month along with more information about the new device.
If you want to keep updated with all of the news from Baselworld 2015 then bookmark the blog and we will keep you up to date with Baselworld, which takes place between the 19th and 26th of March, right here on First Class Watches!