As smartwatches get more and more capable, many have wondered how luxury watch makers will compete. Will Rolex eventually introduce a timepiece with smartphone notifications? One company that might have the answer is Britain's Christophe & Co, which has developed a smart bracelet called the Armill that blends luxury and technology into a wearable accessory for the extremely wealthy.
Christophe & Co actually teamed up with the Italian design firm Pininfarina -- best known for its customisation work on Ferraris -- to create the Armill. It features a lightweight carbon fibre core that's covered in luxurious accents like 18K gold, precious gems, interior padding to ensure it's always comfortable on the wrist, and even custom engraving. The goal is for every client to be able to customise it to their own tastes.
One advantage that many traditional analogue watches have over smartwatches is when it comes to their power needs. There has yet to be a smartwatch that doesn't need to be charged at least once a day, but through the use of self-winding movements powered by the motion of the wearer, many analogue watches can run for months without needing any manual intervention. And Christophe & Co claims it's developed a similar mechanism for the Armill that will keep its electronics running with a power reserve of at least a year. So the odds are the bracelet will never need to be recharged.
But that's also partly due to the fact that the Armill is light on electronics. There's no LCD touchscreen display, no vibrating alarms, and no GPS. It actually has no aspirations of being a full-on smartwatch, instead, it's designed more as a stylish sidekick for your smartphone. Its creators see it more as a tool for wireless contactless payments, as a form of electronic ID, and as a way to summon the wearer's personal assistant.
The functions of the wearable technology module include a one button valet press which communicates through the user's phone and Christophe & Co companion app to the personal assistant's phone in order to alert them that their presence is requested.
You might then be wondering what good the Armill is for those of us without personal assistants at our beck and call, but anyone willing to cough up $US75,000 to $US150,000 for the wearable will most certainly have at least one person on-call at all times. "James, are you there? Please put this bracelet on your wrist and run around in circles, I think the battery is getting low." [Christophe & Co via A Blog To Watch]