It’s been well over a year now since the Apple Watch came into our lives (it’s actually one year, two months and 16 days, for the pedants out there). Despite the avalanche of publicity and shifting well over 12 million units in 2015, which immediately made Apple the world’s biggest watchmaker, I don’t think, personally, it’s changed the game all that much. Psyche! It has completely changed the game, first off, peeling away people who used to wear mechanical watches and, second, and most importantly, making those who never wore watches wear watches.
The Apple halo effect may have screwed over the traditional watchmakers, especially those brands that sit in the mid-price tier, but it has been a boon to other smartwatch companies. Fossil’s Q Founder, an Android Wear smartwatch, has been getting a lot of buzz and critical love, not least for its pin-sharp, sizeable 1.5-inch screen. Key features include an always-on display that shows notifications, all the fitness tracking jazz that should be standard for smartwatches and apps. A nice touch is the level of customisation; there are plenty of faces to choose from so you can change the look as much as you want. The price for the Q Founder is super attractive — HK$2,450 for the stainless-steel-bracelet version and HK$2,350 for the one with the leather-strap.
Tag Heuer was one of the mid-tier brands that had a lot to lose with Apple’s entry into the watch market. However, Tag Heuer boss Jean-Claude Biver isn’t one to let the future get away from him and he has taken a big punt on the brand winning over millennials with the Connected. Touted as being the fruits of a “Swiss watchmaker meeting Silicon Valley”, the Connected is a pure smartwatch made with Intel technology. The 46mm dial is classic Tag – brushed-steel case, bezel markings and rubber strap – but it also features a super bright 1.5-inch LCD touchscreen. Running on Android Wear, again this watch links up to your iPhone. Priced at about HK$11,000, Tag has attempted to mitigate the high cost by offering customers an innovative swap deal after two years, allowing purchasers to switch the Connected for a mechanical Carrera. Not sure if that will work but bravo for thinking outside the box.
Lastly, for those who want smartphone functionality but can’t bring themselves to own one there’s the unique halfway house that is the Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch. Again, this has all the features you could want – smartphone compatibility, fitness tracker, alarms and alerts – as well as some you never expected, such as the incredibly useful 2.5-year battery life. The key, however, is the dial, which is classically Swiss in appearance and attitude. This is simply the most elegant smartwatch on the market, and it will set you back just HK$8,000.