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REVIEW: Swiss smartwatch glass taps into a post-pandemic contactless world

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Just a few years ago contactless payment was an alien concept for many of us. Granted, it quickly grew to the mass market but still, it remained in the hands of digital tech enthusiasts and their devices for the most part.

As the tech progressed and time moved on, an increasing percentage of the mainstream market wanted a slice of the wearable tech pie – attainable through both the Apple Watch and the FitBit.

This meant that for a long time the choice was between two for the watch aficionado: the look of a traditional watch with the luxury feel it brings and the other; a smart watch and the practical, insightful use that a digital focus offers to its users.

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However as society has evolved to want the best of both worlds, the millennial watch consumer seems to be no different – something the MuchBetter and Winwatch partnership has most definitely tapped into in more ways than one.

Winwatch explained how it is the first company to seal a payment chip (EMV) and antenna within a glass watch face, the kind of technology jump users may expect from a Q-made James Bond watch.

It can also be used at millions of locations worldwide where Mastercard contactless is accepted.

A technological development of this sort could make it quick and easy for any watch manufacturer to create their own payment watch, a possibility which could lead to a slow shift to those younger consumers within the market who want the best of both worlds of the modern day watch combined with a luxurious timepiece.

The chronograph with Swiss quartz movement comes in a stainless steel case. 41mm in diameter also seems to make a perfect size for the payment watch, allowing the wearer to benefit from a light and manoeuvrable face while still getting a luxurious feel.

It has a screwed stainless steel back cover and comes with a black rubber bracelet. With a 4-year warranty and water resistant to 5 ATM, it can be safely said this watch is a bit of an all-rounder, especially tapping into the current coronavirus-inspired market.

With people encouraged to pay via contactless wherever possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MuchBetter says it expects increased demand for innovative contactless payment options among the general public and watch manufacturers alike.

It watch can be used like any contactless payment card once the user has paired it to their MuchBetter wallet/app with payments made via the MuchBetter wallet which can be funded by smartphone.

Having said this, wearers do not need to have their phone with them to make payments which gives the watch another dimension of ease for the modern user.

Looking at the watch as a whole package in this sense, including its price point at CHF 295, it is a very attractive acquisition and given the sapphire used in this way for contactless payments, it will be fascinating to see other watch brands, and a potential growing list of those towards the mid-high end of the market, including this technology in their offering in years to come.

Looking at some of the comments made by those behind the launch, MuchBetter co-founder Jens Bader, said: “Swiss made watches will always be the pinnacle of watch design, often passed down from generation to generation. People are loathed to give up their expertly crafted analogue watch in exchange for a smartwatch that may be obsolete in just a few years.”

Adding: “That’s why there’s such a big gap in the market for people who see the benefit of some adding some smart features like payments to their beloved analogue watch – especially now while contactless payments are not just highly convenient, but fundamental for public health. After the great success of the MuchBetter powered CashCuff smart-shirt and our payment keyfobs, we’re really excited to be launching this watch to the market.”

While Winwatch CEO, Alex Kalbermatten, commented: “By combining our world-first STISS capabilities with MuchBetter’s best-in-class e-money solutions we have created a truly unique, affordable luxury product.

“With our STISS glass and its non-invasive and straightforward implementation, Winwatch is the perfect link between the watchmaking world and the new and increasing needs in the competition for the place on the wrist. As a next step we will also offer our STISS glasses to the world’s leading watch brand manufacturers.”

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas