It didn’t take long for smartwatches to capture the imagination this year. Several key fashion companies, designers and watch brands announced a smartwatch in January. Some companies, such as Fitbit, decided to use CES 2016 as their launch platform. The traditional watch brands made their play at the jewellery and fashion focused Basel World 2016. While others decided to keep things a little lower key with an announcement on their blog.
Since then, several other players have joined the mix too. All of which is to say we have a lot to look forward to this year in the smartwatch world, whether it's big brands or innovative start-up companies. To keep you in the loop as to the happenings of the smartwatch market, below are the pick of the bunch the top 5 SmartWatches coming soon in 2016 that we are most looking forward to.
So without further ado, let’s begin:
Michael Kors Access Collection
Michael Kors announced their first smartwatch line, Michael Kors Access, last month, but it is only now that more details are starting to emerge.
What we know so far is that the smartwatch line will be powered by Android Wear exclusively and there will be a version for “him” and for “her”. The men’s version appears to be black or dark stainless steel in press videos while the ladies version is gold. Michael Kors has put a huge emphasis on the design of these smartwatches stating that the devices are geared towards the “fashion-focused consumer” with “glamorous style”.
The smartwatches will be compatible with both iPhone and Android-powered smartphones and they will launch with exclusive Michael Kors watch faces preinstalled. The bands themselves are interchangeable and the announced US price is $395 USD. The watches will be available in Michael Kors stores before becoming available in other retail outlets. There’s no tech specs available just yet, but we will update this article when they are announced.
The Tissot Smart-Touch is arguably the most exciting upcoming smartwatch on our list because it is the first true smartwatch from Swatch Group. It is based on the T-Touch Solar, and as a result much of the watch face is made up of a photovoltaic cell which powers the quartz movement.
Embedded below the cell is a small LCD readout which can provide live notifications when synced to a smartphone. This smartwatch won’t compete with the TAG Heuer Connected, which runs Android Wear, though. Instead it is aimed squarely at active people. It has GPS and the battery life is quoted at “around a year”. In the launch video, the Smart-Touch can be seen showing directions by using the watch’s hands, which we think is really neat, and the LCD screen can show local weather information and other useful information.
The Smart-Touch also has a built-in barometer and altimeter sensors so it can track all the usual data that fitness bands can. US pricing has been confirmed at $1,100 to $1,200, which is really rather steep, but there’s no denying the Tissot Smart-Touch is a high quality device.
BLOCKS Modular SmartWatch
The BLOCKS Modular SmartWatch is all set to start shipping this year and it is without doubt one of the most hotly anticipated smartwatches of 2016.
Designed to be futureproof, BLOCKS is a user-upgradeable smartwatch which lets its users add new features by simply changing a section of the wristband. Or in other words, you can choose the modules you want and build a smartwatch based on your needs and your lifestyle. You can add a Fingerprint Module, Air Quality Module, SIM Card Module, Heart Rate Module, a GPS Module, Flash Memory Module and many more Modules to the watch.
The Modules themselves switch out with a simple click and you don’t have to turn the watch on and off to add them, so the whole process is seamless. The watch unit itself, which is called the ‘Core’, has activity tracking, voice control and Bluetooth built in as well as haptic feedback. The screen is an AMOLED unit, which is a nice addition. The BLOCKS smartwatch is available to pre-order today for $330 + shipping from the BLOCKS Kickstarter campaign.
New Balance SmartWatch
News emerged back in January that fashion and footwear designer New Balance were planning on bringing out an Android Wear smartwatch. News since then has been thin on the ground, but we do know that it’ll compete with the Moto 360 Sport.
That means it’ll be runner and sport focused, with GPS and all the usual fitness-tracking technology. It will probably have an optical heart rate sensor too. The device doesn’t have an announced name yet, but New Balance are said to be working with Google and app developers Strava and Zepp to produce the smartwatch. So at the very least, we can expect a device with unique fitness apps preinstalled. There are also rumours that the New Balance smartwatch will hook up with the company’s embedded trainer technology to track users.
We won’t have long to wait to find out more about this smartwatch, because it’s due anytime soon with New Balance paying it’ll be with us in the holidays. Whatever the case, it’ll have its work cut out to compete with the excellent Moto 360 Sport.
The Nixon Mission has flown under most people’s radar this year, but make no mistake this has the potential to be one heck of a smartwatch. Nixon is calling the Mission the “world’s first ultra-rugged, action sports smartwatch”, taking a clear swipe at the excellent Casio WSD-F10. It is powered by the super-fast Snapdragon Wear 2100 system-on-chip and has water resistance to 100-metres.
The case is a mixture of tough polycarbonate and stainless steel and the round AMOLED display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. The Nixon Mission comes on a rugged orange silicone strap or it can be had with a black or grey strap. Personally, we like the orange one.
Nixon has also developed their own app for the Mission powered by Surfline and Snocountry, two services that will provide users with live conditions at a glance on the wrist.
Nixon have really talked their first smartwatch up with their claims of ruggedness, and at first glance the Mission certainly looks to be a tough cookie. It’s interesting that Nixon has decided to market their watch to surfers and snowboarders and skiers first and foremost, but the Mission is stylish enough for desk divers too. Keep your eye out for this one.