If you’re not familiar with Swiss MMT, they’re the folks behind the smartwatch technology in the connected watches from Alpina and Frederique Constant, and we’ve reviewed the Frederique Constant versions here and again here. Whether out of necessity or the desire to innovate, I do not know, but MMT has felt that being tucked into a watch case is simply not all they want to do. Instead, they want to be on your watch strap. MMT has done this by taking the guts of what they have placed into watches and instead built it into a module that is affixed to a watch strap (of their making), right next to the buckle. With this one strap, you’ve added activity tracking, sleep monitoring, a sleep cycle alarm, get-active alerts, and dynamic coaching to your watch.
Ostensibly, something like the MMT E-Strap allows you to wear any old watch that you want and have some smarts (the aforementioned tracking) built into the experience. This is the “best of both worlds” compromise that I would consider a logical step, and something that could actually be adopted more widely within the watch-collecting world. At its most basic level, this is a replacement strap for your watch. One hopes that they have selected quality materials that will work to make a comfortable and robust watch strap. At least, they’re good-looking based on the images we’ve seen from MMT. Oh, and they must have some measure of water-resistance built in, as the MMT E-Strap carries a 30M WR rating as a whole. We can see how they hold up if you go for regular swims. For me, though, I would hold out for the second generation.
This first generation of the MMT E-Strap is very much like what we saw with the first-gen smart watch from Frederique Constant in terms of functions. It also allows the battery life to be extended due to not having to constantly chatter with your phone. This leads to a seven-day battery life, which is admirable (though, that is comparable to my venerable Fitbit One, which does a whole lot more). A notable plus here is that all of your data is backed up to the cloud and can be restored from said cloud. However, as I noted in the Frederique Constant review, that data is most definitely in a walled garden – no opportunity to move it out to the site of your choice (say, to mesh with the data you capture from your running watch).
Smart watches exist in an odd segment of their own making. They straddle the line between wristwatches and gadgets, not quite fully comfortable being labeled solely as one or the other. For someone like myself, this intersection of horology and electronics would seem like a perfect mashup. Alas, to date, it has not been. Sure, there are benefits people can realize via the various health-related tracking these watches bring to the table. For myself, I prefer to use a fitness-specific watch (which, yes, does talk to my phone to push data over), and then a stand-alone tracker during the day. This allows me to keep my favorite traditional watch on my wrist (or whatever I happen to be reviewing) while still maintaining the activity tracking. Sure, it’s two devices (three, if you include the gym watch) but that works for my preferences and use case. If you still want to get to a single device during the day, then we get into a more interesting slice of gadgetry, things like the Chronos, Montblanc E-Strap, and the just announced MMT E-Strap.
I think that this first generation of the MMT E-Strap will attract attention, as it’s a new way of adding smarts to existing watches. I just hope it attracts enough attention that there are subsequent generations that add more capability (as we have seen with the Alpina/Frederique Constant watches that use the MMT modules). I also think that they’d be smart to build out an easy way for these to be attached to any standard strap (say, ends in a 20mm width) so you can buy just the module and put on the strap of your choice (as we all likely have our favorite straps for our favorite watches). For now, I’m intrigued and cautiously optimistic, and really hope this sub-segment of smarts for watches takes off.
As I mentioned, MMT had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was managing to get the tech from their watch implementations built into the MMT E-Strap. While the smarts reside in (or adjacent to) the clasp, it’s also a leather strap that comes along for the ride. This helps soften the blow of the $199 – $249 price tag that it carries as well. UPDATE: MMT has explained that the E-Strap is by itself not a product that will be sold directly to consumers, but rather that MMT intends to sell them to other watchmakers that will brand them. With that said the Frederique Constant version of the E-Strap will be available starting around April 2017. mmt.ch