Watchmaker Montblanc is entering the wearable technology market, but the company is not selling smartwatches. Montblanc recently introduced the TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap, a smart leather strap meant to be worn with Montblanc’s mechanical timepieces in their TimeWalker Urban Speed collection.
The e-Strap seems to be Montblanc’s solution to maintain their luxury mechanical watch brand while venturing into the smartwatch industry, which is growing rapidly. In a press release, Montblanc emphasizes its “fine watchmaking in the centuries old Swiss horological tradition” as well as their desire to innovate. Creating a smart strap to compliment the timepieces is a unique compromise between these two possibly-conflicting interests.
Features on the e-Strap include smart notifications, an activity tracker, remote controls, a tracking device called Find-Me, and a touchscreen. The strap connects to selected Android and iOS smartphones via Bluetooth Low Energy. Montblanc has created Android and iOS apps to control and customize the e-Strap’s functions.
Reception to Montblanc’s e-Strap announcement has been mixed so far. aBlogtoWatch’s Ariel Adams said “Montblanc’s upcoming release of the e-Strap is a healthy sign that the often conservative luxury watch industry is trying to work with smartwatches rather than ignore them.” Meanwhile, John Biggs at TechCrunch called the smart strap “the stupidest thing ever, on par with the Prada phone” and to expect all mechanical watch manufactures to “[face] a massive slowdown at best and bankruptcy at worst” because of smartwatches.
The entire TimeWalker Urban Speed collection will be available for purchase in June 2015. Timepieces can be purchased with or without the e-Strap. The band will sell for €250 ($294.72). Timepieces will cost €2,990-4,690 ($3,524.90-5,529.02).