What we learned about the future of smartwatches at the world's biggest watch show

Mondaine Helvetica

5. MMT has made fitness trackers beautiful

The fact of the wearable matter is that right now, there's only one game in town, and it's fitness tracking. To date, the best looking of these has been the Withings Activité but this now has serious competition, and with two-year battery life, at that.

The MMT ("Manufacture Modules Technologies") platform developed by Union Horlogere Holdings (which owns the Alpina and Frederique Constant watch brands), and Fullpower Technologies can be slotted into any watch, once the requisite license fee has been coughed up, and that's what Mondaine (of "Swiss Railway Clock watch" fame) has done with the Helvetica 1 Smart.

This is just a great-looking, clean, contemporary watch that also tracks your steps via its lower dial, as well as doing sleep tracking, for what that's worth. It then serves up its findings via an app.

MMT app

The only button is the one below: press it and it activates Bluetooth for a period just long enough to sync with the app, which in return makes syncs the time from your phone, so it's always bang-on correct, including when you've just flown into a new time zone. Result: minimal battery drain, maximum accuracy.


Maybe there's no tech here that's earth-shattering but MMT is a great way to put something extra into traditional watches without compromising their aesthetics or battery life, and Mondaine has made the most of it. More classically styled watches with the same module are forthcoming from Alpina and Frederique Constant, if that's more your bag.


6. Tissot is also getting on board

Tissot is a more affordable high-end brand. It makes cheaper watches and more expensive ones, but its sweet spot is about £600-£1,200. It's a marque that's been synonymous with innovation for years, with the T-Touch line, which uses touch sensitive casings to show anything from different time zones to altitude on its analogue dials. No wonder, then, that it's looking into making a smartwatch.

Here, you'd think the motivation must surely be fear. A smartwatch can, in theory, pull off all a Tissot's clever tricks, and more besides. The Tissot is more attractive and has a longer battery life but they'd be crazy to not be concerned by the rise of the smartwatch.

So they're making a connected version of the T-Touch Expert Solar touch panel watch. They had no actual watch to show (the picture above is the non-smart Expert Solar), but supposedly this is no knee-jerk rush job. In fact, their man told me they've been working on this for three years, "waiting for the market to be ready."

Well, the market's ready now, but their smartwatch is not. A release "this year" is promised.

Tissot was, at least, able to tell me a number of its "planned" features, though swiftly caveated with "nothing is confirmed yet". So please bear that in mind.

This one won't use Android Wear or any other established platform, but it is will have built-in GPS, phone connectivity via "a range of apps" for iOS and Android and give notifications via "lights, sound or vibration".

There'll be accessories too – trackers for your keys, and connected home things – "a weather station" was specifically mentioned. Wooh!

Here's where we see another recurring theme of Baselworld. Tissot's guy said this: "We think Apple making a watch is a good thing. It will make people who have never considered getting a watch interested, so the overall watch sector will be bigger." He wasn't nervous about it at all, no no no.