Earlier today we reported on rumors that Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer is teaming up with Google to release an Android Wear watch by the end of the year. Now the rumors have been confirmed as true, and it looks like Tag Heuer isn’t the only traditional watchmaker getting into the wearable game, as Fossil will follow suit with an Android Wear product of its own.
Details on the Tag Heuer device are scarce, as neither the Swiss company, nor Google or Intel (who is contributing chips and sensors) have gone on record on what exactly we should expect.
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We have learned however some of the motives behind the move. According to Tag Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver talking to the BBC, Google is a good fit because it provides a competitive operating system for wearables without actually activating in the market, unlike Apple.
It would be absurd, it would be arrogant to believe that we could develop our own [operating system]. It would be a catastrophe to believe such a stupid thing.
There is no doubt that we could eventually go to Apple, but why should we do a partnership with Apple, who is producing watches? On the one side they would be partners, on the other a competitor.
Google is not producing watches, so the relationship is perfect.
According to the Reuters report from earlier today, the Tag Heuer Android Wear will be a “digital replica” of the company’s original black Carrera model. Biver emphasized that it will be a distinctly traditionally-looking watch.
It will be a traditional look. It will not look like an Apple Watch. An Apple Watch looks like a miniaturised copy of its phone. Our watch will never look like a phone.
Our watch will [have] all the emotion and the DNA of Tag Heuer and it will fit into our collection.
The Tag Heuer Android Wear smartwatch will launch in the last part of 2015, said the CEO.
Fossil is back
While rumors tipped us off about the Tag Heuer device, another company used the Baselworld watch industry convention to announce its own Android Wear plans.
Fossil Group makes watches under its own name, as well as for brands including Adidas, Emporio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Burberry. The US-based company was one of the original partners mentioned when Android Wear was first announced a year ago, though we haven’t heard any news ever since.
Fossil is also partnering with Google and Intel, and its device is also expected by the end of the year. A marketing executive with the company hinted that Fossil will try to use its expertise in putting out lots of distinct models that look different on the outside, but feature the same components. This could be a signal that Fossil will release multiple Android Wear models, which would contrast with the current approach of electronics companies like Samsung and LG, which limit customization options to picking different straps.
You may be tempted to believe that the high-end watchmakers’ interest in Android Wear is a reaction to the launch of Apple Watch. However, both Fossil and Tag Heuer say they have been working with Google since before Android Wear was even announced. Regardless of the reasons, it’s good to see watchmakers contributing their expertise and knowledge of what sells to a still rather bare ecosystem.