November 28, 2015
by Ariel Adams
Speaking of battery life, Hyetis has a smart approach to where they place the battery – in the straps. You can see two small pushers on the straps which are quick-releases to remove them. Traditionally, systems such as this have been used for fashion purposes to help people conveniently swap out straps for new aesthetic styles, but in the Hyetis Alpha, the easy-change system for the straps has a much more profound implication given that the batteries are included in the straps. This means that, rather than having to charge your watch when the battery dies, you can simply swap out the straps in a similar manner to how you’d swap out a new battery in any other electronic device.
Such functionality extends the range of the Hyetis Alpha in terms of how long you can be away from power. Imagine someone wanting to go camping or exploring on a journey that takes more than one day. After 24 hours, their ability to rely on the majority of the watch’s features would be nil, but that changes given that you can simply carry extra straps with you. Currently, Hyetis does not sell extra straps on their website as an option, but if this system works as I anticipate it does, then many people who buy a Hyetis Alpha will certainly want some extra strap batteries as well. Strap options currently include a fabric style strap made from Kevlar and Nomex, as well as black or white alligator straps.
According to Hyetis, the Alpha watches are also “entirely designed and manufactured in Switzerland.” I don’t think all the pieces are necessarily made there (such as the electronics), but that does sound interesting for those who enjoy the “Swiss Made” made aspect of luxury watches. As such, you’ll notice the “Swiss Made” label on the dial which is something I haven’t seen on a smartwatch until now. UPDATE: the world from Hyetis is that the electronics are also fully designed in-house and apparently assembled via their partner who is a Swiss electronics company called Escatec located in St. Gallen. More so, 20% of the electronics are actually made in Switzerland while the circuit boards are printed in-house at Escatec.
The Hyetis Alpha will be available in three versions at launch with a case that is 46mm wide (some areas on the site say 44mm wide, but I would go with trusting the larger diameter figure) with case options that include black or white ceramic, and compressed carbon. Hyetis says that it can offer various color versions of the metal elements such as the bezel and crown guard including polished rose gold tone or sandblasted gray. This is part of the luxury customization element that is probably necessary with a smartwatch at this price.
Non-metal case materials are also probably important for the transmission of various signals from the watch to your phone or from GPS, so the use of carbon and ceramic makes sense. Design-wise, the Hyetis Alpha is interesting, and I am curious to put one on my wrist. Clearly modern in its style, I have a feeling that many consumers will enjoy the look of the timepiece, which is clearly trying to be more “different” versus blending in with a conservative look.
I also want to mention durability since this is, of course, important when it comes to smartwatches meant to go on “adventures.” Hyetis claims 100 meters of water resistance along with a sapphire crystal, which means that you can actually go swimming and potentially beat up the Hyetis Alpha a bit. Products such as the Apple Watch and other class-leading smartwatches have been criticized for being promoted as sport watches that can’t really get wet. Further, Hyetis claims that the Alpha includes specific diving functions such as recording dive times and depth levels.
While thus far untested by us, the features and attention to detail in the Hyetis Alpha make me feel as though it was worth the wait. Hyetis is still working on the Crossbow as well as at least two other smartwatches that it claims will come sometime in 2016. I fully sympathize with those people who pre-ordered the Crossbow and had to wait so long, but it is very nice to see that Hyetis has not been sitting around doing nothing. The entire concept of a luxury smartwatch should be to showcase technology that is simply too expensive for mainstream consumption but that should eventually trickle down. There is no way to pack everything in the Hyetis Alpha into an item that costs a few hundred dollars, and if at least most things on the watch work as claimed, this could be a mark step in the development of not only smartwatches, but also Switzerland’s role in the future of the smartwatch, as well as the traditional watch industry.
Prices for the Hyetis Alpha are 3,900 Swiss Francs ($,4,095 USD currently) for the ceramic models and 4,950 Swiss Francs ($5,197.50 USD currently) for the carbon-cased “Alpha Pro.” hyetis.com