Another traditional watchmaker is joining the intelligent wearable landscape, but unlike arch-rivals Tag Heuer and Fossil, Swatch goes the simplistic, ultra-low-cost route with the Bellamy. This is the textbook definition of a one-trick pony, only enabling “pay-by-the-wrist” NFC functions in addition to telling the time.
There’s no Android Wear software, Bluetooth connectivity for smartphone pairing and notification displaying, direct or indirect Wi-Fi access, fancy Qualcomm processor, RAM, internal storage, or even fitness tracking features of any sort.
Apparently, the Swiss manufacturer doesn’t want to hook you up to the cloud, presumably for safety reasons, although back in February, a credible rumor of an Android and Windows-compatible Swatch timepiece was making the rounds.
Maybe that one is still coming at some point, possibly after Bellamy’s January 2016 Chinese debut, followed by expansions to Switzerland and the US later in the year. In China, the classic-looking analogue watch will cost the rough equivalent of $90 (RMB 580), and let you pay from the wrist in “shops and stores around the country.”
The names and number of retail partners isn’t mentioned, but Swatch says it collaborated with the Bank of Communications and UnionPay to make the system widely available, and the latter’s POS machines are ubiquitous.
Mind you, Apple Pay is yet to roll out to the world’s largest smartphone market, meaning Apple Watch transactions can’t be done in the country at the moment, while elsewhere, only the Samsung Gear S2 and LG Watch Urbane LTE support NFC. Bottom line, the Swatch Bellamy may have just one trick up its sleeve, but it’s a biggie.