Think $130 for a Fitbit Force or $200 for a Basis Watch is a lot to spend on a gadget you wear on your wrist? How about $189,000?
That’s the projected retail price of the top-of-the-line Armill bracelet from Christophe & Co, a new wearables company based in Miami that has a partnership with Pininfarina, the company known for designing the Ferrari, to design and co-brand the device. (Sergio Pininfarina recently died, but the firm is now run by his son Paolo Pininfarina.)
The plan is for bracelet wearers to be able to scan their way into exclusive clubs such as the Monte Carlo Beach Club in Abu Dhabi, the Home House in London and the Kee Club in Hong Kong, where they will be able to press a button that relays their favorite drink order to a tablet at the front desk. A different button will place a call through a companion mobile app to a round-the-clock “dedicated lifestyle manager.”
Christophe CEO Aleksandr Bernhard would not provide images of the bracelet for publication, but early mock-ups show a thick metal bracelet with curves reminiscent of a sports car. The final version will include gems, he said.
Bernhard’s plan is to make the bracelets available for preorder this summer. They will include a kinetic energy generator to power the device with movement, as well as NFC and Bluetooth LE. The tech components are to be modular so they can be upgraded at a later date.
There are to be three different price tiers, with the lowest selling for $70,000. Lower-end editions will have lesser gems and fewer tech integrations, Bernhard said.
Later features may include smart home control via gesture recognition, virtual keys and a virtual wallet. Sure, it all sounds fantastical and idiosyncratic — but customization to the level that an individual bracelet is configured just for its owner is exactly the point of a luxury wearable, Bernhard said. The appeal is the exclusivity of the device.
“Our target customer probably owns a Ferrari or at least is aware of Pininfarina,” said Bernhard. “They’re very tech savvy, and they want to be the first to get it — even better if they can be the only one.”
Bernhard, who by day sells pianos to high-net-worth individuals in South Florida, said he has raised less than $100,000 in angel funding so far, primarily from his customers and contacts at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon. That’s a lot for a smart bracelet, but perhaps not quite so much for a hardware startup.
Update: Bernhard said the company has raised over $100,000, including its angel funding, since August and is currently seeking an additional $1.5 million.
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