As soon as the rumour mill started to churn out whisperings of Apple getting involved in the watch world, every watch brand worth its silicon got its R&D department onto looking at ways to smarten up its offering.
Baselworld this year was full of “concepts” – from TAG Heuer’s partnership with Intel to Tissot’s more vague alpine-related technology – but very little in the way of completed watches, suggesting something of a rush to throw themselves on the band wagon had occurred.
Mondaine, by contrast, did have a product. And one that actually worked.
Using the technology created by Frederique Constant’s CEO Peter Stas and Philippe Kahn, founder of Fullpower Technologies under their Manufacture de Movements et Technologies (MMT) umbrella, it had put it in the Helvetica design creating a smartwatch that was both smart and that still looked like a watch.
This is the first time, both the words “watch” and “smart” have been given equal importance. The great thing about this smartwatch is rather than presenting a rude black screen to the world, you actually have something that looks good on your wrist. The only clue to the smart capability is the sub-dial at 6 o’clock, which provides the analogue data read out from the app.
The smart part is the activity and sleep tracker that is part of the movement – which is quartz and has a battery life of two years; rather more than Apple’s 24 hours.
In the most basic sense, the app allows you to set your goals in terms of exercise and your nightly sleep quota and then tracks them.
As we said, it doesn’t look like a smartwatch. This is technology you can wear to the office. The Helvetica family has been chosen to house the “smart” element and it is easy to see why. Helvetica is appealing to a certain design-savvy person, one who probably wouldn’t like the obviousness of other smartwatches.
There is a certain “if you don’t know, I won’t tell you” feel to this watch, which ties in with that more intellectual customer the Helvetia is aimed at.
Look and feel
This is, first and foremost, a great-looking watch, with the smart part feeling like a added secret rather than the emphasis of the whole design. It is 44mm, which could place more in the male watch category, and there have been some who think that the Helvetica writing as well as a sub-dial has made everything a bit cluttered.
As it is on a leather strap, you might not want to wear it for a full-on workout, making this more a watch for those who want to monitor how their daily life contributes to their overall fitness.
This is a very versatile watch (we should know, we tried it on with everything from ripped jeans to a lace dress though denim, as modelled by Ferne Cotton here could work too). It is maybe not for after dark, but it does work incredibly well as an everyday piece, which means you’ll get a lot of use out of the technology element as well.
To get the look, click on the board
Need to know
This is a watch that values its horological history as much as it does its technical future. It’s a true lifestyle proposition, something not a lot of other smartwatches have managed.
Buy it now: John Lewis