Hewlett-Packard's new dive into smartwatches brings together the skill of fashion designer Michael Bastian and the electronics expertise and engineering of HP in a device that will be available for sale starting Nov. 7.
The new smartwatch, called the MB Chronowing, is now featured on a Web page by online luxury goods seller Gilt.com, which is counting down the time until the device will be available on its site. Fans of the watch can sign up to be notified of the launch and the availability for the timepieces.
Bastian is an American menswear designer, based in New York City, who launched his own designer line after working for Abraham & Strauss, Sotheby’s, Tiffany & Co., Polo Ralph Lauren and Bergdorf Goodman.
The new smartwatches meld elegant design, substantial materials and modern electronics to create fashionable devices that raise the smartwatch marketplace to a new level. The 44mm stainless steel smartwatch includes a face that looks like a traditional round watch face, but is changeable electronically and includes calendar, email and text notification capabilities, as well as one-week battery life and the ability to adjust volume and control music tracks from the device.
The MB Chronowing comes in two versions, including a standard version that includes three interchangeable wrist straps in perforated brown leather, olive green nylon and black rubber, according to the Gilt site. The watch is also available in a special MB Chronowing limited-edition black version, which is limited to only 300 copies. That version includes all-black physical vapor deposition (PVD) plating, a sapphire crystal and an authenticity card hand-signed by designer Michael Bastain, according to Gilt.
The regular MB Chronowing will retail for $349, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, while the limited-edition version will retail for $649. The watch does not include a touch-screen, has no microphone and can't track a wearer's steps or heart rate, unlike competing devices.
Also featured on the MB Chronowing smartwatches are controls for 10 functions with the touch of a button, including date and stopwatch, live streaming of stocks to sports scores and water resistance at depths of up to 5 atmospheres. The devices will also automatically sync to any time zone.
The limited-edition version includes an alligator strap and a stainless steel butterfly clasp, setting it off even more from the base version of the smartwatch.
The MB Chronowing devices are compatible with any Apple iPhone 4S or higher, as well as any Android OS 4.3 devices or higher, according to Gilt.
With these new upscale smartwatches, Bastian and HP and Gilt are following a similar direction that Intel and designer Fossil navigated in September when the two companies announced their MICA smart bracelet, a fashionable woman's line that features embedded pearls, lapis stones, Russian obsidian and Tiger's eye, as well as a side-mounted curved sapphire touch-screen display that will receive Short Message Service (SMS) texts, calendar reminders and general alerts. The bracelets will sell for less than $1,000 each.
The MB Chronowing watches were first announced by Gilt.com in July, when their introduction was slated for this fall. The smartwatch's distinctive crown bezel bolts and lighted chronograph are classic Bastian touches, which have been seen in his previous designs for traditional timepieces, according to Gilt.
"A watch like this should provide men with quick, simple, accurate information at a glance, much like the displays and dials of a car dashboard—you can almost think of it as a personal dashboard for your digital life," Bastian said in a statement at that time. "The watch's interchangeable straps in perforated leather, nylon and rubber even reflect this inspiration."
The smartwatch marketplace has been busy in recent weeks, with Samsung announcing that its curved Gear S smartwatch will go on sale starting Nov. 7, while Fitbit unveiled its new Surge smartwatch, which is its first venture into the dedicated smartwatch marketplace, bringing Fitbit into more direct competition against companies, such as Apple, Samsung, Sony and LG. They will retail for $249.95 and be available to consumers sometime in early 2015.
The wearable device market is expected to top 19 million units this year, and jump to 111.9 million units in 2018, IDC analysts said in April. Canalys analysts in September said the wearable band market will grow 129 percent a year, hitting 43.2 million units in 2015. Of those, 28.2 million will be smartbands, with the other 15 million being basic bands (which, unlike smartbands, cannot run third-party applications), the analysts said.