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There’s no denying the tension in a luxury smartwatch. In principle, luxury is permanent, or at least long-lasting. Smartwatches, by contrast, are du jour – their function, performance and relevance all have a looming expiry date, determined by the inevitable arrival of new-generation tech. But from tension can come creativity. Pioneers in the luxury smartwatch space have found ways to elevate the concept, in a bid for individuality – and exclusivity. As the label demands, luxury smartwatches typically cast the cost of the Apple Watch, the category maypole, into the shadows. In return, the promise is of invention, superior materials, scarcity, and – above all – the assurances of an elite dial name. Here’s a closer look at five of the smartest-looking luxury smartwatches currently vying for your affections.
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Someone had to go first. And that someone was Tag Heuer. In late 2015, the famous marque logged the world’s first luxury smartwatch, the Connected. More than six years on, Tag Heuer is very much at the category vanguard, and with the tech-savvy, 27-year-old Frédéric Arnault at the company helm, it will be looking to stay there. In that vein and with Naomi Osaka as its face, the fourth-gen Connected Calibre E4 has just blinked into life. Available in either 45mm or 42mm of stainless steel or titanium and with a wide range of leather and rubber straps as well as a pin-sharp hi-definition screen, it’s loaded with proprietary software geared not simply to health and fitness, but to improving your athletic performance. Guided seven-minute workouts and some of the best golf mapping software out there add to the Connected’s halo status.
The Parisian house’s deliciously non-conformist foray into smartwatches continues with the new Tambour Light Up, a smartwatch powered by a proprietary operating system that supplants the everyman health and wellness approach in favour of travel and personalisation, two Louis Vuitton staples. Owners can choose from endless home-screen customisation options, and then swipe left for access to boarding passes and Louis Vuitton’s trendy city guides. Set to full “Blossom” mode, the watch ignites on activation, sending a rainbow of colour around the dial and into the 24 LED lights that sit behind its Monogram Ring. The cloche-like sapphire glass that seeps almost invisibly over the dial edge makes it wear much smaller than its 44mm.
Never one to tread softly, Hublot’s interpretation of the luxury smartwatch is the inimitable Big Bang e, which folds connected tech into one of the 21st century’s most recognisable watch designs. There are editions devoted to Hublot’s ever-deepening involvement in football, standard collection models, and at the top end, a pair set with diamonds, one of which is this. Under its titanium skin is Google’s Wear OS, which brings with it Google Assistant, Google Pay and a host of apps, as well as the guarantee that there is no sassier way to check out at the supermarket.
With everything from writing instruments to suitcases, Montblanc is just as much luxury accessory ecosystem as watchmaker, and it’s drawn heavily on its experience of the eternally demanding executive world to create the Summit 2+, a 43.5mm smartwatch with a dial that can be tailored to match the brand’s mechanical watches. As such, at first glance, it gives little of its true nature away, which is that it’s the first luxury LTE-enabled smartwatch – meaning that as with the Apple Watch and others, you can link it to your phone carrier’s data plan and make calls and send messages without your phone. Its apps include Cardio Coach and Body Energy, the latter tracking sleep, activity and stress, another boon for busy wearers.
At some point, adherents to the less-is-more philosophy will always reduce their options to the ascetics of Porsche Design. The German firm’s spin on the high-end smartwatch is typically streamlined, and inspired by the fluid forms of its namesake cars. The GT 2’s 47mm round case tapers seamlessly into a neatly articulated link bracelet, which, because it’s all in brushed titanium, weighs in at a featherweight 98 grammes. There are but five exclusive Porsche Design dial layouts to choose from, while greater emphasis is put on the watch’s Huawei-backed functions, which include a blood oxygen monitor and applications that will track your average speed on a day spent on the slopes, or your golf swing posture. As attractive as any of this, is that the watch will run for two weeks off a single charge.