Wrist Top Geekery: 8 High-Tech Watches For NerdsBy Chris Weiss
I’ve seen a few short-sighted folks that think the wristwatch is on the verge of extinction because you can tell time with a cell phone. Unfortunately, what that shallow argument fails to address is that watches are more than just timepieces; they’re fashion accessories, statement pieces. Perhaps cell phones will replace a few $15 digital watches from Walmart, but they’ll never replace fancy, multi-thousand-dollar Swiss machines.
With that being said, some watches may need to add a little more bang for the buck to remain viable. After all, not every watch is a handcrafted, jewel-encrusted masterpiece from the Alps. So watchmakers have taken to incorporating all kinds of funky tech in order to make watches a little more attractive to consumers. Here are our favorite examples.
ThinkGeek Spy Camera Video Watch
If you’re looking for a geeky, high-tech watch for a gift or for yourself, ThinkGeek is a logical first stop. This particular model looks like an unassuming knock-off that you bought at a city street corner. Underneath that painfully fake-looking face, however, is a hidden video camera with 8 gigs of flash memory and a microphone for recording audio. Just like you can tell time with a cell phone, you can film footage with your phone’s camera, but the watch is just 1,000 x more subtle and unassuming. Plus, the minute you put “spy” on any gadget, it’s automatically cooler than the alternatives. This one will run you 80 bucks.
Kempler & Strauss W Phonewatch
Kempler & Strauss are known for making luxury phones and this particular model is designed to be worn like a watch (w is for wrist!). Watch phones are a funny animal; back in the day, long before they were a technological possibility, they were only worn by secret agents in movies and TV series and people loved them. There were few things cooler or more futury. Now that we actually have them, they’re kind of geeky and not especially compelling. But, if you want to pretend you’re a circa 1960s secret agent with all the most high-tech, government funded technology, the W Phonewatch is there to make it happen. It makes calls directly or via Bluetooth and functions with a small, touchscreen interface. It also includes a camera, microSD slot, MP3 player and video playback. You can find this phone-meets-watch for $200.
Devon Works Tread 1
Despite the misguided but prevailing notion that watches need to get more functional to compete with cell phones, sometimes a watch just needs to tell time. And sometimes it needs to tell time in a unique, interesting template that is protected behind bulletproof polycarbonate. Sure the bulletproof aspect is more of a novelty than a feature (how many watch faces have you had gunned out lately?), but just try to tell me it’s not cool. Meanwhile, just below that bulletproof face, a series of treads slide and roll to present the time of day. I’m not sure that it’s unique look is worth $15 grand, but it is certainly worth a long stare.
Glacier Computers W200 Wearable Computer
Okay, this one really isn’t a device wrapped into a watch; it’s more of a watch wrapped into a device wrapped around your wrist. We presume that it tells the time like any computer, at least. Featuring a Linux or Windows CE base, the W200 is a computer you can carry around on your wrist. It includes a touchscreen, Bluetooth and GPS. You can even add a wearable scanner. Note that it’s primarily designed as a work device, so don’t expect to be carrying it around for Facebook updates and networked gaming just yet.
Quiksilver The Ray Eco-Watch
We’re not quite at the point where we have watches that can suck down harmful emissions and spit out oxygen quite yet, but we can certainly find timepieces that offer better accuracy than the moving sun without much more environmental impact. This Ray eco-watch is made from sustainable ebony wood and recyclable materials. It doesn’t require a battery and runs on automatic movement. It’s also kind of a conversation piece. Retail is $800 on this one.
Texas Instruments eZ430-Chronos
Billed as “the world’s first customizable development environment within a sports watch,” the TI eZ430 can help you fill the void that the high-tech watch market has left. Don’t see a watch that does what you need? Program this watch for the wireless application that you need. It includes a variety of sensors like integrated pressure sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, andtemperature and battery voltage measurement. You’ll find the main watch for $49, along with a number of other development tools on Texas Instruments’ site.
Sony Ericsson LiveView
Making and receiving calls on a watch may be a little too geeky for the average guy, but how about just being able to check your phone without digging it out of your pocket. The recently introduced LiveView, which will launch later this year, does just that, connecting to your phone via Bluetooth and displaying information like missed calls, texts and Facebook updates. This is more like an auxiliary 1.3-inch OLED display for your SE Android 2.0+ smartphone. It even includes a music player and Android app support.
Tag Heuer Grand Carrera Pendulum Concept
This watch was introduced at Baselworld this past March and recently completed a world tour aboard the special-edition, one-of-a-kind Tag Heuer Tesla Roadster, an electric car that’s an impressive feat of technology in and of itself. The foucault field grey Tesla was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in early March, and the Grand Carrera Pendulum followed at Baselworld on March 18, beginning its 15-city, worldwide tour, which just wrapped up last week at the Paris Motor Show. Besides looking like a millionaire’s timepiece, the Grand Carrera Pendulum replaces the traditional spiral hairspring with a series of magnets to regulate mechanical movement of the watch innards. It combines cutting-edge technological design and lavish styling quite well.