The aesthetics of the swmartwatch is an issue we’ve debated time and time again. Is it possible to craft a smartwatch with the beauty and quality of a Swiss chronograph? Or is that not even relevant – should it be a practical, wearable gadget first and foremost?
Or… should it be both? Is that even possible? Up until this point (and despite the tantalising teasers for the Moto 360 Android Wear), we’d have said no. But Kairos Watch, a South Korean start-up, may have just changed that.
What you’re looking at are prototypes of Kairos Watch’s first prototypes. Leather straps, mechanical components, metal casings – it certainly looks the part of a Swiss watch, but it’s what the face does which is truly astounding. Lined with a 0.1mm thin TOLED (Transparent Organic Light Emitting Diode) display, the face of the watch can turn 60% opaque when a notification from a synchronised smartphone arises. This means you can receive tweets, texts and WhatsApp messages on your wrist, without taking off your Swiss timepiece. Better yet, the watch runs on an in-built battery that recharges via USB – one charge should last you around four days.
These concepts were shown onstage at Startup Asia Singapore 2014, an Asian tech-themed conference (as you may have inferred from the name). Kairos Watch founder Sam Yang described his product as a “Hublot smartwatch”. A lofty claim indeed, and probably one that Hublot wouldn’t be too pleased with him making, but his claim does carry some weight. The watch looks undeniably great compared to the Galaxy Gears and G-Watches of this world, although it should be noted that its parts are provided by a subsidiary of Citizen. A fine Swiss watchmaker, to be sure, but not quite Hublot.
That’s probably for the best though, as its unlikely that many would pay over $5 million for a smartwatch. Instead you’re looking at a price of $1,100 for the Kairos upon its release – $550 if you pre-order from a limited stock from May 15th onwards.
That price seems pretty reasonable, even after its pre-order hike. Considering the fairly underwhelming and by-no-means-Swiss-made Samsung Gear 2 costs roughly $500, its not too much of a stretch to ask for double the price for what could well be double the product.
Interestingly, no wearable prototype was revealed by Yang at the conference, but we’ll be sure to show you when one does eventually (hopefully) surface.