By Rebecca Doulton
Not since the deluge of quartz watches has there been so much ink spilled in the watch world with the advent of the smartwatch. Most high-end watch brands have pooh-poohed the risk of smartwatches denting their niche in the market. After all, they reason, how can you compare a battery-operated gadget that needs charging, to a beautifully crafted, mechanical watch?
And they are right in many ways. Imagine, instead of the Patek Philippe advertisement showing a father bequeathing his beloved, exquisite timepiece to his son, it was replaced with a smartwatch - it would completely shatter the idea of watches being made to be passed down.
However, it is a fact that we are integrating more and more mobile technologies into our lives. A smart compromise for people who don't want to give up wearing a real watch, but who are in touch with 21st century technology, has just been proposed by Montblanc watches.
Montblanc has not only shaken up the market by creating high-end watches at very accessible prices for a new generation of watch buyers, it is one of the first luxury watchmakers to enter the smartwatches arena with its clever hybrid. The new Montblanc Timewalker Urban Speed Chronograph collection comes with the option of an interchangeable e-Strap. Tucked under your wrist, where the buckle usually sits, is an electronic module with a small screen that offers an activity tracker, smart notifications and remote control functions via Bluetooth to Android phone devices.
The handsome 43mm grey, sandblasted steel case, with its matte black ceramic bezel and racy red details on the dial, give the automatic Montblanc Timewalker Chronograph a sporty and contemporary character. Coupled with the discreet e-Strap device, this new generation of Montblanc watches is an ingenious fusion of past and future technologies.
With the e-Strap, notifications are signalled by a vibration and you can preview emails, read text messages and see incoming calls and updates of social media feeds without having to extract your telephone from wherever it is hiding.
Fitness fanatics will be able to monitor their physical activity, selfie addicts will love the remote function on the strap, and scatterbrains can find their watch or phone with the find-me function. Unlike the Apple watch, for example, which will need to be charged on a daily basis with a separate charger from that of your iPhone and will not be on the market until April, Montblanc's e-Strap device only needs to be recharged every five days. Who says you can't have the best of both worlds?
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