When Apple introduced the latest iPod Nano, one of the first accessories to emerge was an after-market strap that turned the mini music device into an iWatch. A nice idea but it was never the timepiece Jony Ive would have envisioned had he started from scratch.
Enter the SLYDE, designed by Jorge Hysek for Swiss watchmaker HD3, a touchscreen wrist watch offering a range of detailed screen themes, including customisation to show your own photographs.
The streamlined water-resistant body houses the integrated horizontally and vertically-scrolling touchscreen and is offered in a range of colours and materials – tasteful monochrome titanium with leather or rubber wrist bands to pink gold and alligator-print straps. From secret agent to footballer’s wife, most bases are covered here.
HD3 is better known for its high-end flights of fancy within the watch-making community and previous creations appeared to have been given life and risen from the pages of H G Wells’ The Time Machine – a world away from a regular high street chronograph.
So why the step from the past to the future, neatly side-stepping the present? HD3’s supplier of movements went bankrupt in 2009 so Hysek chose to explore a new business model and focused on re-imagining his complex mechanical workings into digital rather than physical theatre.
Is the SLYDE an homage to Apple’s mutlitouch domination? The technology and its presentation certainly is. The product design is tastefully addressed (in the right colour and material) but doesn’t delight in the same way an Ive creation does. I’d expect a seamless unibody or an unexpected fusion of materials to generate an immediate “I want one” reaction in much the same way an iPhone, iPad or MacBook Air does today.
This throws up another issue – the £3,500 price tag. HD3’s original watches commanded a high price, as would be expected for an intricately-crafted hand-made Swiss timepiece. By crossing into the multitouch market immediate parallels are drawn with existing technology at a considerably lower price-point.
Other comparisons can be drawn with the app market as HD3 plan to offer a range of downloadable watch ‘faces’ at £50 – £100 each, asking more for limited editions. This model works for apps when the initial purchase price is considerably lower, then multiple in-app purchases are offered. There is clearly room for a lower priced watch to reach a wider market, then encourage a greater take up of watch face purchases.
LG attempted a touchscreen 3G phone/watch (the LG-GD910) in 2009 but the £500 price, size and slim feature-set put many off and it seems the world still wasn’t ready for a Dick Tracy-style gadget two years ago. The high-end market may well prove a better starting point for 2011.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t like one as I’m a sucker for anything that combines design and technology. Those with enough cash to spare will undoubtedly consider the SLYDE without a second thought just for the opportunity to wrap this best-of-breed timepiece around their wrist.
Following the September 2011 launch, HD3 may still need to look over their shoulder as Apple are working on wearable technology for the US military. The clock may already be ticking for the SLYDE’s high-end dominance (see what I did there?)