For the most part, the first rush of smartwatches rush has left me a little cold, with the watches being not terribly smart, in either functionality or appearance. The recently announced Mondaine Helvetica No 1 smartwatch definitely does not leave me cold in at least the appearance stakes.
On the surface, the Mondaine Helvetica No 1 smartwatch looks very much like the previous models in Mondaine’s Helvetica series of watches. An analog watch, with a matt steel case, leather band, a plain, white face and the elegant Helvetica font. Oh, and there’s a very analog-looking sub dial at the bottom of the watch face.
This sub dial is the outward face of what makes this watch smart. Inside the watch, the movement has been infused with MotionX technology, the very same tech that is behind Jawbone’s UP series of fitness bands. As in the UP, the Mondaine Helvetica No 1 smartwatch will – in addition to elegantly providing the time – track your steps and sleep, and will with the accompanying app provide this data digitally, along with activity alerts and Smart Coaching. The aforementioned sub dial on the watch face will also show your step and sleep numbers, in an analog fashion, instead of what would be the sub dial’s regular job of working as a stopwatch and / or calendar.
Other smartwatches and fitness trackers generally need to recharged on a daily to fortnightly basis. The Mondaine Helvetica No 1 smartwatch’s battery will have a battery life of about two years.
Price and availability
A prototype of the Mondaine Helvetica No 1 smartwatch will be shown at the Baselworld 2015 watch show in April, and the production version will be available for sale shortly afterward. The price has been given as 850 Swiss francs, which at the time of writing rounds out to about $1,150 Australian dollars.
Watches may not be cool anymore, and sales have as a consequence dropped, but the Mondaine Helvetica No 1 smartwatch is a poster child for the tradition of watches as an heirloom. The same could not be said for digital-only smartwatches.