Even though it’s getting harder and harder to stand out in the increasingly crowded intelligent wearable space, everyone expected something special from one of the biggest names of the Swiss watch industry. But Swatch chose to tackle smartwatches rather timidly, with a couple of products that aren’t anywhere as luxurious as the Tag Heuer Connected, or as futuristic as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S2.
The Zero Touch One is outright bizarre, targeting a surprisingly small niche of sports fans, specifically amateur and professional beach volleyball players. Meanwhile, the Bellamy looks like your standard affordable “dumb” timepiece and, wrist payments notwithstanding, it’s really little more than a basic fashion accessory.
It doesn’t count steps, let alone monitor your sleep habits or track heart rate, it can’t pull smartphone notifications, and obviously lacks a touchscreen. The only “smart” thing it does is use an NFC chip for easy transactions on the go.
Recently unveiled in China, the Swatch Bellamy will look to precede Apple Watch’s local Apple Pay support, courtesy of the manufacturer’s sealed partnership with UnionPay. Also in early 2016, it’s now revealed that the wearable device shall facilitate contactless payments “globally”, wherever Visa cards are accepted.
That’s clearly an alliance proving Swatch is serious about its smartwatch prospects, and world-leading financial services are already behind it, though for the time being, the “global” spread merely involves the US, Switzerland, and Brazil.
Let’s hope more countries will be added to the list before long, and most importantly, fingers crossed for a fancier mainstream wrist-worn gadget with Visa payment capabilities, notification support, and fitness tracking functions.