The biggest problem with most smartwatches has been finding a way to deal with the "watch" portion of the design. When it comes down to it, it's difficult for even the nicest-looking smartwatch to compete with the classic style and look of an analog watch.
Grayton, a mechanical watchmaker, is trying to take a different approach. Its latest watch is an Indiegogo project called the Origin, that aims to take a mechanical self-winding timepiece and embed smart features directly into the strap.
The Origin’s band connects to an Android or iOS device via a Grayton app and can track fitness activity, control music using a button concealed in the band, and vibrate to signal notifications. The band charges through a concealed USB port hidden at the end of the strap.
Grayton isn’t the first company with this idea. Maintool makes the Classi strap, which goes a bit further than the Origin by also including a heart rate sensor and magnetic charging. And others, like Skagen, have integrated sensors directly into mechanical watch’s case, though offsetting the smart technology entirely to the band allows for the Origin’s case to remain relatively slim.
Unlike the Classi, the Origin strap isn't available as a standalone band — it’s only sold together with Grayton's automatic watch. However, if you do decide to pick one up, there doesn't seem to be anything that would prevent you from using it with any other watch that can fit a 20mm wide band.
The Origin watch itself features a simple but nice-looking design and is powered by a Japanese mechanical automatic movement (Grayton isn't specifying which one, but given the relatively low price, it's likely one of the lower-end Miyota or Seiko options), with a sapphire-coated glass crystal.
The Grayton Origin is available to back on Indiegogo for an early-bird price of $149, with the company hoping to ship in May 2017. Grayton already sells and ships other products, but the usual warnings about crowdfunding campaigns still apply.