Wearable technology has, shall we admit, been a bit soulless at times. Sure, a wrist-worn computer sounds great, but the fashion factor hasn’t always been as prevalent as it is today. In fact, function has frequently triumphed over style, but things are slowly changing, and in 2021, there is more choice in the smartwatch industry than ever before.
With Fitbit competing with Apple for a combined fashion and fitness emphasis, and the ever-expanding Android market, the trend toward features with fashion becoming a clear priority.
Smartphone makers have also realised how fashion can be just as important as a feature. When Samsung released its mobile, the Galaxy Z Flip, last year, there was less concern about its internal technology and more about its aesthetics.
Fashion brands have become involved
Collaborations between Dolce & Gabbana and Motorola, and Armani and Samsung, show that technology companies have recognised that there is an eager market of fashion-conscious shoppers who cherish their smartphones, not really for their remarkable specs and innovation, but for the elegance and glamour of how the ultra-slim devices look in our “Instagram” society.
Design as a feature
When it comes to wrist-based options – smartwatches, smart bands, hybrid watches, fitness trackers, etc, it’s not shocking that, between different vendors, they all deliver very similar features. Aside from time and date, nearly every model has phase trackers, GPS, heart rate sensors, and the ability to connect to the smartphone for alerts, and even the features are often the same across the board. But, how do brands differentiate themselves from the competition? Of course, there’s design.
Watches have long been regarded as a status symbol and luxury accessory, so it’s no wonder that fashion houses with little to no tech expertise, such as Kate Spade, Michael Kors and Emporio Armani, are now major players in the fashion smartwatch market.
Remember when Sony launched the FES Watch U in 2018? The dial and bracelet were made of e-paper, which mimicked the look of ink on paper. It was fashionable and revolutionary. This clever concept allowed customers to fully modify the look of the watch at any time using a downloadable app. This is no longer revolutionary because so many manufacturers have jumped on board, and there are practically hundreds of thousands of watch faces to pick from to match your personal style.
Everyone wants their watch to look its best, and faces and complications are the best places to begin.
In general, brands have been cautious with watch faces, opting for a less-is-more style. Watch faces, on the other hand, get a lot of love now, with a slew of brand new style choices and the opportunity to swap watch faces with others (if you have an Apple Watch, for example).
The amount of customization is nearly unlimited, with native or third-party complications, as well as the option to tweak design features, being available on most watch faces. And, with the new faces sporting an always-on show, the decision is more crucial than ever.
Smartwatches range in price from next-to-nothing to multiple hundreds. At the very top of the price range, you’ll frequently be paying for luxury fabrics, fashion labels, and decorations, such as silver, gold, rose-gold or even semi-precious stones, rather than technological advancements.
Price is in no way a predictor of success. For example, we’ve demonstrated some smartwatches that look like the Apple Watch and cost less than $50. Paying extra can get you things like sophisticated activity monitoring, luxury fabrics, or a band and bezel made from stainless steel or aluminium instead of plastic. New models, especially those from larger brands, typically command a premium.
As a result, one person may potentially own a set of smartwatches to match whatever outfit they are wearing that day.
So, we conclude that a smartwatch as a fashion accessory is an entirely viable option and, in fact, you can easily combine technology with design!