While the budding smartwatch industry has been dominated by tech names, at least one big-name watch company wants in on the action.
Timex this week is announcing the cellular-connected GPS One+, a $399 watch that will go on sale this fall. Built in collaboration with AT&T and Qualcomm, the device uses the former’s network and the latter company’s Mirasol display. Mirasol offers a color display, but with the low battery consumption typically offered only on E-Ink devices, meaning the device’s screen can remain on.
Although it has its own wireless connection, a Dick Tracy watch this is not. It doesn’t make phone calls, instead using the cellphone network to transmit location data to friends and exchange email-based messages. The device also allows runners to upload their data to social networks and has 4GB of storage for playing music via Bluetooth headphones. An SOS feature allows watch owners to send precise location information to a predefined list of contacts.
AT&T’s Glenn Lurie, who predicted a wave of connected watches would launch this year, said that Timex has an opportunity to be the first company to offer a device that appeals to the mainstream.
“No one has gotten volume in this space,” he said. “No one has hit a home run.”
Not surprisingly, Lurie believes the fact that the watch doesn’t need a nearby smartphone will be a key selling point for the device.
While pricier than watches from LG and Samsung, Timex notes its offering is priced similarly to GPS watches that lack its connectivity and messaging options.
The $399 price tag includes one year of AT&T service. AT&T isn’t saying how much additional service will cost, although it is likely the company will offer monthly and annual service options as well as the ability to include the watch in a shared-data plan.
Timex Chairman Anette Olsen said that this is the first of many connected watches to come, but declined to comment on what other ideas are under consideration. “This is going to be a journey,” Olsen said. “We think it is a lot of fun to look at these watches and see what they can do. … All sorts of ideas are on the drawing board.”
One of the big challenges for Timex and others is that consumers still aren’t even sure what, if anything, they want to do with a smartwatch.
“We have to figure out what the consumer wants before the consumer knows that they want it,” Olsen acknowledged. “That’s how this market is.”