Once it would have been as unthinkable for a quality Swiss watch to have a fully digital face as it was for a German luxury car to have a computerised dashboard.
Yet here we are in 2018 and, from Mercedes-Benz to Montblanc, high quality digital displays are changing the prestige game with crisp resolution and almost unlimited personalisation options.
This means you can have a Swiss watch constructed from quality materials, complete with great wrist presence and an enviable brand name – as well as myriad 'smart' functions, if that's your thing, and a different look for every day of the week.
Best of both worlds
In some cases such as Frederique Constant's new Hybrid Manufacture model, they remain adorned with a traditional analogue face, packaged with in-built electronics including functions such as fitness tracking, which generates data that can be viewed on a linked smartphone.
In others, such as the Montblanc Summit 2 model released this week, a fully digital face mimics the appearance of a classic analogue dial; but the press of a button opens up a Pandora's Box of the sort of computerised goodies that are more in keeping with an Apple Watch – detailed maps, fitness information, a voice-activated Google Assistant, notifications, travel information and even tap-and-go Google Pay, to make your wallet redundant. The attractive 42 millimetre unisex case can be configured to present more than 1000 different watch faces.
TAG-Heuer, too, has pushed early and hard into the analogue-digital crossover sector with the Connected Modular watch, presenting its own alternative take on the sports watch complete with a digitally-rendered analogue face. It offers a variety of case sizes and compositions, and both these brands make it easy to personalise with numerous bespoke straps.
Just because you can…?
Still, the question remains: just because you can have a Swiss-made smart watch, does that mean you should? For Melbourne watch enthusiast Peter Nguyen, the answer is a resounding 'yes'. Already an owner of eight Swiss watches from Montblanc, Rolex and Longines, plus an Apple Watch, he says he is ready for a timepiece that merges the best of both genres.
"I do believe it is a good idea as we are currently in an era where everybody wants things conveniently and instantly," he says. "The smart watch industry is booming with the growth of technology so why not take advantage to lure a new crowd?"
Nguyen already owns four Montblanc models – an Orbis Terrarum, Heritage Chronometrie, Star Chronograph UTC Automatic and Nicolas Rieussec – but says the Summit 2 is likely to be his next acquisition.
"It has kept to its traditional style, it looks like a real watch even though it's a smart watch," he says. "In my opinion, smart watches have no character as they look like chunky blocks or just way too oversized. This watch has character and has stayed true to Montblanc roots, so I'm excited to see it in person."
Check out the gallery above to see six ways to make your wrist smarter.