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Why Japanese watchmakers have no time for smartwatches

Tim Hornyak | April 25, 2014
If the Rufus Cuff smartwatch is anything to go by, some people want a lot of hardware on their wrists.

Meanwhile, there were virtually no smartwatches on display at the Baselworld trade fair.

Current smartwatches on the market are smartphone wannabes and are trying to copy their functions, Casio's Saito said. He believes their ultimate goal is to become a smartphone for the wrist — not unlike the Rufus Cuff.

Japan's other major watchmakers also produce dazzlingly cutting-edge timepieces, but smartwatches are a non-starter for them.

Seiko has evolved its Astron, which debuted in 1969 as world's first quartz watch, into a GPS-linked, solar-powered device that supposedly loses only one second every 100,000 years.

The manufacturer, which brought Japan's first wristwatch to market a century ago, has promoted accuracy and advanced features across its mechanical, quartz, kinetic and solar movements. But it has no plans for a smartwatch, and wants to focus on watches that impart passion, reliability and beauty, a Seiko spokeswoman said.

Citizen's latest flagship, the Satellite Wave F100, also synchronizes with orbiting timekeepers. The company said it spent two years developing a new movement to shorten the satellite signal reception time, claimed to be the fastest in the world, by one second.

Citizen is a diversified manufacturer that also makes digital blood pressure monitors, thermometers and pedometers. But it has no time for the smartwatch fad.

"Rather than being a watchmaking process, smartwatches are like making iPhones or computers," a Citizen spokeswoman said. "Our basic stance is that we want to produce watches, and that's why we don't make smartwatches."

 

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