A sharp timepiece has separated the nouveau riche from old money since the first kings put the first clockmakers to work. Now, Mondaine wants to make sure that the next generation of luxury watchwearers can sport their decadent devices well into the technological age.
High-end Swiss watchmaker Mondaine announced Wednesday (Feb. 17) that it was updating its line of Helvetica No1 smartwatches to include NFC payment capabilities. Through the use of a Mondaine PayChip that is no larger than a cellphone SIM card, which is slotted directly into the watch’s wristband, Mondaine watch owners will be able to link the chip to a credit card account and pay for their purchases with the tap of their wrists.
Mondaine has officially partnered with Cembra Money Bank AG to facilitate the upgrade for new and old accounts within Switzerland, though the company has said it is working with local banks in other regions to bring NFC payments to their watches regardless of their customers’ locations. Oberthur Technologies will be handling the digital security measures for the watches.
While the decision to add NFC payments to its luxury watches might seem like an intuitive decision for Mondaine, new data suggests that its more of a necessity. According to data from Strategy Analytics, sales for venerable Swiss watches dipped below that of smartwatches for the first time. In Q4 2015, 8.1 million smartwatches were shipped globally, compared to just 7.9 million Swiss watches.
“The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches,” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. “The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away. Swiss brands, like TAG Heuer, accounted for a tiny 1 percent of all smartwatches shipped globally during Q4 2015, and they are [a] long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smartwatch category.”