It was just a week ago that Pebble launched the Time, its new smartwatch and software platform on Kickstarter. The company has raised over $12 million in funds and taken pre-orders for more than 65,000 watches. But as to what CEO Eric Migicovsky alluded when the campaign launched, the company isn't quite done with new product announcements.
Today, Pebble is announcing the Pebble Time Steel, an upscale version of the Time. It's all metal — stainless steel, to be specific — and is a little thicker and noticeably heavier than the mostly plastic Time. It's available in three different colors: stainless steel, black, and gold. Each watch will come with a metal link bracelet and a complementary leather strap (the gold model will come with a red strap). It will be available through the same Kickstarter campaign as the Time for $250 (regular retail price will be $299), and existing backers will be able to change their contribution to get the steel version without losing their place in the pre-order line. The Pebble Time Steel will ship in July, about two months later than the standard Time.
A metal chassis isn't the only change from the regular Time. The Time Steel is 1mm thicker and has nearly twice the battery capacity — Pebble says it should last up to 10 days between charges compared to the seven on the standard model. It also has a nicer, laminated display, which eliminates the slight air gap in the Time's screen. The three buttons on the side have a textured grip, and the metal frame around the display itself is slimmer than on the Time. The slimmer metal frame actually makes the Time Steel's display appear smaller than the Time's, though they are the same dimensions. Migicovsky says the metal link bracelet was designed to prevent catching on your arm hair, and sure enough, it did not pinch me or pull my hair when I tried it on. Overall, the Time Steel and the link bracelet are significantly nicer and more substantial than last year's Pebble Steel.
In addition to the Time Steel, Pebble is releasing more information about the unique charging and data connector found on the underside of the watch. The connector, which can send and receive both data and power, enables what Pebble calls smartstraps. The smartstraps replace a standard watch band and can do things like provide extra power to the watch, measure heart rate or other vitals, or display lights and notifications in unique ways.
Smartstraps are a big part of Pebble's hardware platform plans
Pebble isn't actually releasing any smartstraps of its own at this time; it's simply releasing the necessary schematics that let other hardware makers create smartstraps for the Pebble Time and Time Steel. It's a major part of Pebble's grander plans to build both a hardware and software platform that outside developers and hardware makers can contribute to. This is the company's strategy to stay relevant in the coming wave of smartwatches, and it will be interesting to see if it's able to do just that.