As tech companies start to compete with luxury watch manufacturers, luxury watch manufacturers are increasingly turning to technology. IWC Schaffhausen is the latest watchmaker to follow the lead of Tag Heuer and Frederique Constant, but unlike those brands, the Swiss luxury manufacturer isn't making a full smartwatch just yet. Instead, it's built the IWC Connect — a small circular device that attaches to the straps of IWC's mechanical sports watches to track the wearer's activities and enable connectivity with other devices.
IWC CEO Georges Kern says the company noted that many of its customers and "brand ambassadors" were wearing fitness bands and other connected trackers alongside their IWC watches. The small and silver IWC Connect, he says, is an "aesthetically complementary solution" that means IWC owners don't need to detract from their fancy mechanical watch with a decidedly un-luxurious plastic fitness tracker on the opposite wrist. "This is essential," he says, to justify why the company didn't make a full smartwatch — "we do not touch our beautiful watches."
The Swiss company is the latest in a long list of mechanical watchmakers who have responded to an incursion into their sector from Apple, Samsung, and other tech giants by producing their own smart devices. It's not yet clear whether the IWC Connect will be the answer — details on what the device will actually offer are thin for now — but no one company has yet worked out how to perfectly bridge the gap between fashion and function. Even Apple itself appears unsure of its position, arguing that it doesn't intend to compete with luxury brands at the same time as it brings out a $10,000 gold wristwatch.