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3 Concept Smartwatches That Could Be From Popular Swiss Luxury Brands

3 Concept Smartwatches That Could Be From Popular Swiss Luxury Brands Watch What-If

The number one complaint the Swiss watch industry has had toward the most current crop of smartwatches is that they aren’t attractive by European design standards – and that even applies to the Apple Watch. Jean-Claude Biver went so far as to suggest that, given his standards, the Apple Watch looks as though it was designed by a student. So if the best breed of smartwatch yet (even though it hasn’t even been released at this time) doesn’t pass Swiss watch industry muster, what would a smartwatch design by Switzerland’s old guard look like?

One thing we know all too well is that the Swiss watch industry is all about tradition. It can be safely assumed that a smart watch that looks into the future, may very well also look into the past. So for this edition of Watch What-If, we propose three possible Swiss smartwatches from popular taste-making brands. Here, we have conceptually connected digital timepieces from Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai, and Franck Muller by our artist Niklas Bergenstjerna. He has designed mock-ups that we personally would want to wear, and he even proposed names for each.

Jaeger-LeCoutlre Reverso Red Pill Smartwatch

Keeping it simple and stylish is part of the Jaeger-LeCoultre personality. We think the Reverso design is very well suited for a transformation into a smart watch. Maybe a mechanical watch on the other side? The dial is digital so that the it will be completely blacked out when the watch is not in use.  The red slider at the bottom can work as a switch for the dial, and at the same time light up and give alerts when you have new messages or calls. A rubber strap to match the smart watch image.

3 Concept Smartwatches That Could Be From Popular Swiss Luxury Brands Watch What-If

Panerai Luminor Venturo Smartwatch Concept

The idea was, with this Panerai, change the big “crown-chunk” on the right side into a mechanical slide function with a thumb grip where the OP-logo is located. It might even function as an on/off switch. There is a camera lens between “SWISS” and “MADE.” Oh, and we made the small icons above the camera from scratch. We wanted something in a Panerai minimalistic style, but in a matte black ceramic case. We gave the watch a thick rubber strap with a noticeable grain to give it kind of a rugged feel, but still keeping the “smart watch” look that we think rubber straps give. The social media icons are dimmed out, but will light up when new messages arrive.

3 Concept Smartwatches That Could Be From Popular Swiss Luxury Brands Watch What-If

Franck Muller 3D Punk Smartwatch

Speaker in the upper side of the tonneau-shaped Franck Muller case in 18k rose gold. A thin led light with a “vintage light bulb look” at the botton of the case. Light flashing when receiving new calls or messages. A 3D dial with added depth to make the watch appear less flat than other smart watches/digital watches.Rubber strap with stripes to match the speaker design and the small stripes inside the led light.


Niklas Bergenstjerna is a freelance graphic designer and watch lover based in the south of Sweden.



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  • Zeitblom

    Today, JC Biver deplores horrible design. In tomorrow’s episode, Sylvester Stallone explains General Relativity.

  • joshgraves

    I don’t think smartwatches will make it to the luxury realm until they can jam double/triple the pixels into the screens and boost the battery life to that of a minimum automatic in the range of 40 hours.  High end cases and top notch build quality would need to wrap around a display that does not exist yet.  I look forward to the possibility of very high density displays that could simulate high end complications that could be changed rapidly to match the occasion.  I believe jamming social networking, weather, news, and call alerts onto the wrist as whimsical and unnecessary unless the watch had its own data plan on a national network separate of the smart phone that is needed currently.

  • Zeitblom So if I get this right, Biver thinks he could do better than Apple, yet he headed Hublot which has produced some of the most garish watches. While I’m not exactly a fan of the Apple Watch, I want to see a render that JCB  made himself for comparison.

  • Ulysses31

    Many years ago the idea of highly miniaturized mechanical computers became popular.  It was (and probably still is, who knows) an important area of research especially in the defense industry.  Such devices, constructed on a tiny scale with the latest manufacturing processes were of particular interest because unlike silicon electronics they would be impervious to EMP attack – great for the military.  Imagine a tiny, highly sophisticated adding machine.  If the Swiss could leverage their prowess of producing mechanisms combined with analogue sensors and nanotechnology, we’d have the next generation or watch movements that could perform calculations and analyse data while being totally free of the dependence on batteries.

  • Ulysses31 The Chinese will beat them to it with a tiny abacus (also impervious to EMP)

  • mavuae

    Building on Josh Graves comment: give me the Reverso with a mechanical automatic movement that is good enough to power both the digital and the analog sides of the Watch while providing 40 to 50 hour autonomy range, and maybe I would begin to consider buying something like it.

    Very nice designs though, be careful that Apple don’t steal the guy for the v2 of their Watch. Assuming they would want to get it right this time of course….

  • Soooo, $12k, $23k, and $130k smart watches, in that order. I like the trend; make them virtually unobtainable, and kill smart watches as a whole.
    The only one of these concepts that would have any chance is the JLC, and it would need that mechanical watch on the other side. But, with a computer on one side and a watch on the other, with a faraday cage between them, that would be one Big Mac of a Reverso.

  • Soon… $12k, $23k, and $130k smart watches, in that order. Interesting trend; make them virtually unobtainable, kill the smart watch trend, and we can get back to business as usual.
    The only one of these with any chance would be the JLC, and it would need that mechanical movement on the other side. But, with a computer on one side and a watch on the other with a faraday cage in there’s as well, that would be one Big Mac of a Reverso. Personally I think the PAM10011101011001 ( as I have dubbed it) looks the best, but I might rethink that crown guard idea.
    Too bad the timing wasn’t better, this would have been a great post for April 1st.

  • WimadS

    Wow, was never really a fan of the reverso, mainly because of the dial. But as a smartwatch the concept actually makes a lot of sense! Love it!
    The panerai smartwatch is also pretty neat. A shame though they didnt make the time in the iconic panerai numerals. Also the fake crown guard could house a thermometer. Problem with most watches that currently have a thermometer is that they measure the temperature of your skin…. taking it off the skin in the “crown guard” would be a neat solution!

  • Apologies for me edit turning into a double post

  • Fraser Petrick

    I have no problem with aesthetically focused “luxury” watches going digital. For me a watch is a tool first, followed very, very closely as jewelry. I’m also of an age, and as is consistent with my age (70), that I am decidedly uncomfortable with the soul destroying intrusiveness of the internet. I don’t want to attach it to my body. For me a watch represents a private relationship. (My God, that’s corny!) I value privacy and silence. I am overloaded with information as it is. (“This is how the world ends: not with a bang, but a whimper” may be rewritten as “This is how the world ends: not with a band or a whimper but with information overload.”)

  • Shawnnny

    Where did the rest of the article go. I can’t find it!

  • Evitzee

    I don’t get this constant interest now from ABTW, since Apple announced their Smart Watch, that the world has changed and the Swiss watch industry is on alert that their existence is at stake unless they change focus and embrace electronics.  The three examples in this article are fine for navel gazing, but we are foolish to think the industry should go down this route.  People buy mechanical watches, usually Swiss, because of what they represent.  It’s not about electronics!!  Quit trying to flog this meme that re-electronicization of the Swiss industry is what is needed for continued future success.  It’s NOT where the Swiss watch industry’s future lies.


    Mr. Biver should examine his own ghastly designs, criminal prices, pandering to 1%’s, & allying with luminaries to plug his egregious merchandise, before kvetching about smart watches. If Mr. Breguet were here today, he might slap Biver’s face in anticipation of a duel. Taking the basic, humble Hublot roots, & transforming them into strangling, toxic kudzu weeds is tantamount to horological genocide.

  • thornwood36

    “smart watch ” ……………….Even the name annoys me


    Coming very shortly: The Mensa Watch. Only Mensa members will be permitted to purchase them.

  • jfsuperior


    With all due respect, Evitzee, I think it is fair to say that any surviving Swiss watch manufacturer with a long memory has got to think back to the 1970’s quartz crisis when there was a near shutdown to the Swiss watch industry. 

    I see nothing wrong with providing discerning customers with a creative mechanical timepiece coupled with hi-tech modern telecommunications on his wrist. IMHO, the article selected three “smart” watches suitable for such a combination. Perhaps there are others to pick from but these are a good and logical choice to start with just for ideas.

    Jack Freedman

  • Time2Go

    Sorry, but “articles” like this come across as nothing more than click bait to me.

    When (and if) the Swiss watch industry starts actually showing/selling their version of smart watches, then I want to read about it here. Until then, I can photoshop my own conceptual mockups to my heart’s content.

    And, since I’m on a rant, I personally would love to hear no more about Apple’s new device here.  I don’t care what they call it, its not a watch — it’s another tech device. As such, if I want to learn about it, I’m going to be reading tech sites for the details, not ABTW.  Maybe I’m alone in this, but there it is.

  • jfsuperior

    Fraser Petrick

    As a watchmaker I have thought on my own of the same JLC’ Reverso concept watch for precisely the same reasons you mention “privacy and silence”. A dual timepiece as shown gives one the option to be silent on one side or turn around the inner case for information. This, in my opinion, could offer the best of both worlds.

    Jack Freedman

  • jat76

    Interesting enough, while those bitching about the smart watch being a ghastly Frankenstein of true/traditional mechanical
    horological pieces, it has to be taken into account that the younger generations are being geared more towards this smart market, and while I love tradtional watches, and believe that the smart watch will never kill the traditional watch off, I can see a future for the smart watch.
    So SCREW those complaining about Ariel doing smart articles, cause as they say you stop progress, so embrace it, and who’s to say that in years to come some “smart” kid looking for the new thing in smart watches doesn’t come apon BTW and through it discover a love for the traditional mechanical watch!

  • SantiagoT

    I may not have my facts right, but I think traditional watch making survived the quartz crisis with more traditional watch making, not less. Trying to compete with quartz is what made lots of companies fall, since people did not see any advantage in a expensive Swiss quartz compared to the cheap Asian units. 

    So Swatch watches helped balance the business in the cheap segment of the market, but how brands got their neck out of the plastic bag that was suffocating them was offering more and better mechanical watches; offering someting people would understand as unique. 

    If traditional watch making companies start losing focus and try to compete with technological companies they themselves will be tightening the rope around their necks.

  • electrominds

    I dont know exactly what happened in the quartz crisis but I do understand that for most people, traditional watches still represent the best quality as well as taste. It’s a good thing that tech companies like apple/samsung compete in the watch industry and bring more younger customers as teens today seem to lack the interest in even wearing one. I also believe that when people hit a certain age, some of they would have more appreciation of handmade watches. As for whether these traditional watch companies lose their focus or not, shouldn’t the market speak for itself? Maybe we should just wait and see.

  • spiceballs

    Ha – thank you Ariel. Very much enjoyed this light-hearted fun piece dig at the higher end makers 🙂

  • Zeitblom

    Jokes aside, I’m afraid that people are missing one basic point. Smart watches may not be able to compete with the real thing in terms of quality, style, etc etc etc. But they can and will compete for *space on your wrist*. Unless people start going bi-wristal, which won’t happen much, the success of smart watches would simply mean that the real watch gets left at home. And that would be unfortunate. And that’s why it is an issue for blogs like ABTW.

    I think the way forward is the revival of the [of course mechanical] pocket watch. You can keep one in your pants pocket with a chain attached to a belt loop. You take it out and admire it at your leisure, while the smart watch does all the boring practical stuff on your arm.

  • SantiagoT I agree. Luxury (traditional) watchmaking is a proven segment. Luxury digital goods have not yet shown themselves to be very successful (Slyde watch, Ulysee Nardin phone, etc.) so while this may be an evolving market segment, I think tech companies will have a hard time moving into the luxury area where name (branding) and history are important. Plus tech is known to be disposable. Luxury goods are supposed to be enduring items. And you are right Santiago, luxury brands at best may find a blend of their traditional strengths plus a dash of tech. Or at worst, they will fail and will abandon digital initiatives and retreat to what has worked in the past. Cheers.

  • Zeitblom You know, we often see social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) icons on actual or proposed smart watches. Personally, I don’t even like it when my phone alerts me that someone on Facebook had a birthday. So I really don’t want to be alerted to such trivial information on my wrist. Maybe if I was expecting an important email it might be nice to see that it has come up, but I only have an issue with digging my cell phone out of my pocket while I driving. And better tech in cars and phone will solve those needs. So I’m happy to keep a mechanical watch on my wrist.
    But if a useful digital module could become industry standardized and watch brands would adopt it (think of SIM cards or micro SD memory), then traditional watches would still exist to satisfy our desire to make a more personalized statement about ourselves via our watches and still have the commodity/utility functions that digital alerts can provide. Distinctive vibration alerts (for me) would be more useful and discreet than flashing screens on my wrist (I really don’t care what my friends just eat for lunch – photo included). Cheers.

  • spiceballs

    Zeitblom  Perhaps look even further ahead when the smart smart smart (smart3 (cubed)?) watches will be implants (wherever you want ???) powered by solar and/or heart beat.  That’ll really make My Grandfathers Clock (song)” come true?

  • Zeitblom

    MarkCarson Zeitblom I sympathise wilh all of that…. but sadly *we* are not the ones who steer the market. The question is: how should the watchmakers respond if these gadgets really take off among their clientele? One possible future dystopia looks like this: watches become exclusively something to be worn on special occasions, like suits and ties [remember those?]. Worse: peacockification sets in and everyone starts wearing Hublots. You get the picture….

  • Zeitblom

    spiceballs Zeitblom Have you seen the movie “Her”? In the future you will say, “What’s the time?” and S. Johanssen will reply, “Your watch or mine?” etc etc etc

  • Zeitblom MarkCarson What an Orwellian future – yikes! neckties? I live in Hawaii,  not sure we even have a word for that. Watches are already for peacocking in various degrees of subtly or overtness. And even in a dismal future, not everyone will wear a Hublot (Fraser’s wrists are too think for instance), ha ha.

  • spiceballs

    Zeitblom spiceballs  ha ha yes I did, but forgot that. (Great movie – I thought.) Prefer if Scarlet said (to me) your place or mine  – – ?

  • Evitzee

    jfsuperior  Yes, but the quartz revolution was not kind to the Swiss.  They first thought they had to convert to quartz or die, but that was a disaster.  The Swiss successfully market on the concept of tradition and hand craftsmanship, trying to meld a mechanical timepiece with an electronic module in some sort of Frankencreation will be a disaster.  No one is going to want to spend $50k for a perpetual calendar mechanical watch that is a hybrid with an electronic module.  It’s a non starter.

  • DG Cayse

    Somewhat sad to say it, but, I like all of these.

  • DG Cayse

    MarkCarson SantiagoT Very true. The “buy-in” point is so unclear that it causes many to sit it out completely.
    “Do I want v 1.0? v. 2.2? What about 3.0? What will it offer me?” – Just too confusing right now.

    (happily using Win 7.0)

  • Borys Bozzor Pawliw

    To me, a smart watch is a different concept for a watch, but then a Patek Phillipe that costs as much as my car is not so much a watch as a statement – it speaks as effectively to those in the know as a Harvard MBA, a party invite to a mansion on the Côte d’Azur or membership of The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. Maybe there is a market for these very good designs, but perhaps not. A smartwatch is a tool many of us may end up wearing, but the ultra high end mechanical watches we crave are as safe as ever.

  • WimadS

    Zeitblom, actually I do know someone who wears a watch on one wrist and a smartwatch on the other 😉 so it does happen. But maybe the designer community I am in is not very representative for the rest of us.

  • thornwood36

    jat76 i dont ” bitch ” thank you

  • thornwood36

    BIGCHRONO thornwood36

    Have to say Chrono i know where you,r coming from re : smart/ real debate going on here but one feels your being a tad judgmental on the individuals who for whatever reason like this small touch screen laptop. on their wrist.. I did a little research on the convict comment and feel it didn’t need brought up in this instance.  .


    I only included the ex-con status for factual relevance, & to highlight another aspect of greed that pervades everything. Jacob broke the law & served time, but that does not excuse his outlandish inventory @ outrageous prices.

  • SantiagoT

    MarkCarson SantiagoT Although I still think quartz companies, or quartz sections of companies (meaning Certina, Tissot, Citizen and a long et caetera) and some “traditional” watch maisons which rely heavily on pure appeal to sell their mechanical watches (I always mention Bell  & Ross or JeanRichard) WILL suffer a heavy blow from smart watches the first 4 or 5 years of their existance.

  • SantiagoT MarkCarson I agree. Quartz and  even under $500 mechanical are going to be vunerable to smart watches.

  • BIGCHRONO thornwood36  As I recall, wasn’t Jacob the Jewelers conviction for money laundering for criminals? In which case, yes the fact does support unchecked greed.

  • DG Cayse

    Borys Bozzor Pawliw “A smartwatch is a tool many of us may end up wearing,…”
    Quite so and there in lies the value in these so-called “smart watches. Seeing these mock-up of what could be, I have begun to see some usefulness in the concept – to a point. I predict that these will gain a market share; it looks to be the ‘right product at the right time’ for a segment of the market. The group that desires:
    constant connectedness
    constant social media availability
    constant attention
    constant assurance that they are tuned-in and have the ‘latest/greatest’ tech toy

    This will be the market share for these items. The questions remains – How large will this, historically fickle, segment be and how long will they maintain their affection for these items?

    And, what will be the next ‘latest/greatest’ tech toy that will supplant these?

    I strongly agree with the sentiment that these tech toys will never replace the high-end mechanical watches – it will not happen.
    But, I do think that these items will gain a place alongside mechanicals in the market place and be a viable purchasing option for those shopping for a timepiece.
    And I, geezer that I am, will turn my head and smugly grin when I see someone with one of these tech toys raise their wrist and look about to see who is watching them as they check their display screens or note their latest/greatest beeping/blinking/obnoxious toy.

  • stefanv

    Re, “the best breed of smartwatch yet doesn’t pass Swiss watch industry muster”.

    The people buying smartwatches could’t care less if they pass Switch watch industry muster. They only have to pass consumer muster.

  • DG Cayse Borys Bozzor Pawliw I don’t know if the high end should get too comfy!

    It’s not necessarily about intentionally competing; an Apple Watch won’t be an art piece in the same way a Jaeger-LeCoultre is.  It’s more that smartwatches may institute a generational shift, where people care less about movements and “complications” and more about whether they can unlock their car from their wrist.  Think about what a stereotypical 25-year-old, upwardly mobile American today has experienced; this person may have never bought a watch, but has basically grown up with smartphones.  When they’re making a really nice salary 10 or 20 years down the line, are they going to want an ornate mechanical watch to communicate status, or an Apple Watch Edition that plays nicely with the phone at the center of their social life?

    To me, the “Apple/Motorola/Samsung is no threat” argument comes simply from looking at the short term.  If culture eventually decides that smartwatches define luxury, then no amount of handcrafting and exotic materials will get people to change their mind.

  • stefanv

    jonfingas DG Cayse Borys Bozzor Pawliw When they’re making a really nice salary 10 or 20 years down the line, things may have changed again. Perhaps our smartphones will be implants, once again freeing up the wrist.

  • stefanv jonfingas DG Cayse Borys Bozzor Pawliw True… I’m not personally expecting implants, but the key is that we shouldn’t assume that even the truly high end brands are safe.  We’re at the start of a cultural shift in the approach to wearables, and I won’t be surprised if it has the same effect as quartz did on the watch market decades ago, if not something greater.

  • DG Cayse

    jonfingas DG Cayse Borys Bozzor Pawliw “Johnny Fingas”…love it – “Heeey…fuhgeddaboutit awright?”

    I agree. The marketplace will eventually decide to what status these tech toys will be elevated. Look at the ubiquitous ‘smart phone.’ Vertu has elevated this to a high-dollar item that people are paying big money to have and flash.(no pun intended) And this is basically a common cell phone at the bottom line.

    I do not see the well-crafted mechanical watch being replaced. Just another item coming to the store for consideration.

  • Emperius

    Digging the Luminor, but if such things where to exist, I do NOT want ANY social trash associative with it.

  • Emperius

    jat76 Cool story, now go charge your iWatch.

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