Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

Modillian Smart Strap: Teaching An Old Watch New Tricks

| By Mario Squillacioti | 5 min read |

Why do we insist on vaunting technology from the 18th, 19th and 20th century when we are resting on the cusp of a technological revolution in time keeping? Don’t throw away your dumb old watch. Make it a Smart Watch with a Modillian Smart Strap!

Historians and watch nerds can debate who was the first to actually produce a watch that was meant to be worn on the wrist but the heart of the matter is that the wristwatch as we know it is 110 years old (If you consider the Cartier Santos to be the first one in 1904). In the last two centuries there have been many improvements made to the size, accuracy, functionality and shape of the mechanical watch. In the past half-century we’ve seen quartz watches push miniaturization and accuracy even further. Then the advent of the integrated circuit gave rise to digital watches that had alarms, count-down timers, multiple time zones, calendars with alerts and a host of other functions that sound great when you buy them but frankly never use. (Of course we know that mechanical watches can be made to do practically anything that a digital watch can do, but at what cost?)

All of the drive in the industry has been to make it smaller, more accurate and more functional. Now it seems that the drive is not just to make your watch more functional, it is to make your watch SMARTER.

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Blame Steve Jobs!

When the first iPod Nano was introduced some clever people decided to slide a NATO strap through the belt-clip and treat it like a watch. It told time and played music! Brilliant!

iPod used as a watch
iPod used as a watch

Not too long ago Samsung announced their first piece of ‘wearable technology’, their so-called “Galaxy Gear” that integrated motion tracking and time-keeping functions into a watch that was integrated with your telephone and played music. According to the rumor-mill associated with Apple, an iWatch or something of the sort is due out soon. Exactly what an iWatch (or whatever they will call it) will do is subject to speculation (though we suspect it will at least play music.)

Samasung's Smart Watch
Samasung’s Smart Watch

What do you do if you only own ‘dumb’ watches like those made by Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin or Laurent Ferrier? What if your watch can only tell you the time and date (and day, and year, and leap year and astronomical calendar and moon phase and tide and…)? What if you want to INTEGRATE your watch and your phone so you don’t have to look at your phone to see who is calling you or sending you a text message? What then?

A new company, Modillian is trying to crowd source funds for a new, Bluetooth enabled watch strap/buckle. Their product, the Smart Strap will allow you to receive vibrations through your watch buckle. Just replace the bracelet or strap of your favorite old watch with a new Smart Strap and you’re ready to take your watch into the next decade!

Modillian smart strap - 1

The idea behind the Modillian Smart Strap is that in certain situations when you do not want to be disturbed by extraneous rings and pings from your phone, your phone can be programmed to only alert you to those events that you want. For instance, if you are in a client meeting and don’t want to appear rude by checking your phone for messages, your Smart Strap can alert you to a call from your spouse or your boss or anyone else that you want to be notified of. On getting the ‘buzz’ from your Smart Strap you will of course need to check your phone and answer the call you were waiting for. However, I suppose this is better than checking it for EVERY call you receive.

Wait – can’t phones already be programed with special profiles for our contacts and distinctive rings for certain people? Yes they can! But that’s your phone – not your watch! You don’t have to put your old, dumb mechanical watch in a drawer to gather dust when the technological revolution comes to town. Your watch can be an integral part of your telecommunications profile from here on in with Smart Strap!

Seriously Speaking:

We here at Monochrome-Watches don’t have anything against digital technology. We love it! We used some of it to create this article. Nor do we have an axe to grind with Modillian – they seem like nice folks and their hearts are in the right place! They are attempting to adapt new tech to an existing base of old tech products. We wish them every success! (Question: is the Modillian smart strap waterproof?).

Modillian smart strap - 2

At the end of the day, it just isn’t what we are about. A mechanical watch, be it a lust inspiring new creation from an independent maker or even an inexpensive one assembled hastily in a gritty factory is a descendant of the accumulated tradition and craft of all of the watchmakers that have come before. And that same mechanical watch stands like a mile marker for every watchmaker yet to come to measure his or herself to. The watch saw the dawn of electricity and survived. The mechanical watch survived (and maybe even thrived because of) the quartz revolution. The mechanical watch will survive the smart watch revolution and the revolution that comes after that because simply put – we love them. They inspire us. Like the wings of a bumblebee, which should not be able to function the way they do, they function. They account for gravity, friction, gyroscopic forces, changes in temperature and humidity and they still work. They work in the middle of a desert, in a cave, in outer space and at the bottom of the ocean. Rumor has it that some mechanical watches even play music! And if THAT isn’t smart then I/we must be stupid!

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