IWC Connect is an electronic module that will be included on some IWC watch straps, adding fitness tracking functionality to IWC watches, as well as the ability to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). The first IWC watches to get IWC Connect will be those in their Big Pilot’s watch collection. In concept, IWC Connect is very similar to the Montblanc E-Strap (hands-on here), which was a “smart” notification and fitness tracking module that aBlogtoWatch debuted in late 2014 (which garnered a remarkable amount of opinion).
Each of these solutions conveys the very specific message by traditional watchmakers that they understand their customers want to enjoy the latest technology, but don’t want to feel as though they are giving up (or having to make a difficult decision about) their traditional mechanical watches that they so enjoy. Both IWC and Montblanc are part of the Richemont Group, which has for a long time been seen as a testament to traditionalism in the watch industry. Nevertheless, IWC and Montblanc are run by the two most forward-thinking CEOs of all the Richemont Group brands – Georges Kern and Jerome Lambert, respectively.
IWC has offered precious little information about IWC Connect at this point, but in IWC’s own words, “the idea behind this new innovation is to enable owners of IWC timepieces to control their connected environment directly from the wrist while also maintaining the integrity of a handcrafted mechanical timepiece.” That certainly sounds like the Swiss we know. IWC Connect will take the form of a round module inserted into IWC straps which may or may not have an actual screen (though, I am guessing it does). IWC Connect will likely include Bluetooth and possibly NFC connectivity as well as “fully fledged activity tracking.” That may possibly mean IWC now wants you to wear their watches to sleep.
Price and availability for IWC Connect are yet to be announced, but IWC promises more information in the coming months. Devices such as this are not particular unexpected at this point, as the traditional watch industry realizes that it must offer some answer to smartwatches such as the Apple Watch. Though, in some instances, it begs the question if the correct approach would simply be to make a strap where the module is actually an Apple Watch. I say this because my feeling is that traditional watch wearers will want to wear both a mechanical watch and something like an Apple Watch; and Swiss mechanical watchmakers are the first to admit they are not electronics or software makers. We might be pleasantly surprised with IWC Connect, and I look forward to sharing more as this story develops in the coming months. iwc.com