September 4, 2014  ·  design  ·  tech

The Smart Watch We're Still Waiting For

"Smart Watches" are getting better. First they were huge and rectangular, then Motorola announced one that's round but has a chunk missing out of the bottom, and now LG gives us a truly round face. Progress. Clearly. But the reality is that watch enthusiasts are never going to be won over by a flat display of pixels that never stops being a computer screen and suffers from the sorts of glare and battery life issues that are everyone's least favourite thing about smart phones.

What we need is an actual mechanical watch that is only "smart" when it needs to be. And for that, we need two things, really:
  1. TOLEDs, the OLED variant that promises 85% transparency when the display is turned off, need to get better. When they produce bright high resolution colour when turned on and near-100% transparency when off, then the watch's crystal can light up as a smart screen when you need it—when checking notifications or navigating, or in the dark—and revert to a normal watch with physical hands the rest of the time.
  2. A real watch maker needs to get involved. Someone like Panerai or Omega who is going to take ownership of the design and bank their reputation on its success.
Then we'll be getting somewhere.

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