Smartwatches; what to do with them? Embrace them? Bann them entirely? Or, perhaps, if you are positive, try and adapt it into your (haute) horology lifestyle? If you have been following us for the last few years, you might recall that we have always been highly skeptical towards the “smart” revolution in watchmaking. We have yet to stumble upon a project that truly wins us over. We, at Monochrome, have a sort of love-hate relationship with them. But, in all fairness, we keep our eyes open to those that might tick all boxes, like this next Kickstarter project: The Sequent Supercharger, the first self-winding / self-charging / cable-free smartwatch.
First off, it is free of cables and that is the biggest thing that held us back in other smartwatches. Connectivity was limitless in marketing terms, but most (if not all) smartwatches remain connected in one way or another. Take the first-gen Apple watch for instance, with a battery life of just 18 hours… At the end of the day, you are somehow stuck with a dead piece of metal and plastic. And even comparable initiatives spurring from the traditional watchmaking industry are restraint to a cable, power station, adapter or whatever they think of to charge it. Now though, there is a smartwatch that doesn’t need all that, a smartwatch that is actually cordless, and it is called the Sequent Supercharger. Could this be the definitive answer we are looking for?
Now, before we dig into the “smart” part of the watch, I want to make something very clear. Take into consideration that there are basically two types of smartwatches out there. On one hand, you have the full substitutional smartwatch, one that doesn’t require you to take out your phone to read the notifications. They allow you to see your emails, Facebook updates, WhatsApp messages and your re-tweets and what-not. These rely on a digital display, often mimicking a watch face in the traditional sense of the word. Remember the article we wrote back in 2014 on piracy of dial designs? Although the market has shifted since then, and even horological brands are embracing the smart watch revolution (think Tag Heuer Connected, Montblanc Summit), these remain the thorn in the side of true mechanical watch nerds.
The second category are the hybrid smartwatches, the projects that aim to combine the best of both worlds. We’ve seen Frederique Constant and Alpina tackle this, with traditional looking watches equipped with smart technology, keeping track of your movement and heartrate, sleep cycles and more. Oh, and before I forget, I must also mention the supposedly intelligent smart add-ons for mechanical watches like the Montblanc e-Strap, IWC Connect or Classi Connected Strap. These provide a “touch” of smart tech while allowing you to wear a beautiful mechanical watch at the same time.
The Sequent Supercharger project has been in development for about two years now, and is scheduled to be produced and shipped before the year is over, depending the success of the Kickstarter Campaign obviously (launching today July 5th, at 6pm CET). This watch is a true hybrid. Bonding mechanical watchmaking with smart technology into one movement is something we haven’t really seen before. Sure, we’ve seen a watch like the Kairos, which had both, but it still relied on two separate “modules” for the mechanical timekeeping on one hand and the digital technology on the other.
The mechanical side of the watch relies on a module with a traditional, centrally mounted rotor providing kinetic energy, which is then converted into an electric current to charge the battery. On average, the rotor of an automatic movement worn for a full day rotates about 4000 times. In the Sequent Supercharger, these rotations are passed on to a patented spring barrel system, which instantaneously releases the wound-up tension to a micro generator which charges the battery. You can see how this system is set up in the video. According to the brand, this system is able to keep the watch running infinitely. A bold statement, but technically, it sounds feasible.
The Sequent Supercharger is a very modern looking watch, with a variety of interesting straps and a clean design. No real frills here, as you have only a few hands that indicate time. Two hands for hours and minutes in the center, supported with a power reserve on the left (in red) and a biofeedback indicator on the right (in blue). Paired with these traditional indications is a small LED light at 6 o’clock, customizable in color, to help you learn what notifications you might have. This is about the only visual hint that this is a smartwatch though, which to me, is a plus!
The Sequent Supercharger is connected with your smartphone through a proprietary app, which lets you see a number of things. Where you’ve been (GPS) or how healthy your day was (Biofeedback, heartrate, step counter). The technology also allows you to set the alarm with your watch acting like a wake-up device. A truly useful added feature, although not unique, is the ability to jump time-zones without the need to reset your watch. Let’s say you are travelling from London to New York and you arrive in your destination, the watch adjusts the hours to the corresponding time-zone. This makes the Sequent Supercharger a suitable travel companion!
Considering all this, does it win us over? Does it boast what it needs to soften up even the most hardcore watch nerds among us? Quite honestly, it is a resounding NO, and I will tell you why. The thing is, it is still a replacement for our phones which allow us to do all that and more. All we have to do is take it out of our pocket and do whatever we feel like! And to be honest, if I am in a meeting and I receive a call I cannot answer, so be it. And if it is an emergency, my loved ones know how to reach me in alternative ways (i.e. call my boss or office for instance). Connectivity is good, but do we need it all the time, 24 hours a day? Sadly, I think some of us will say “yes” but I do think these people are not the ones we at Monochrome cater or answer to. No, these are the ones with different priorities in life, which is fine of course, but not something we like to commit to. I do not feel the need to be connected 24-7, I still want control about the influence Social Media has on my personal life, I want to switch off and go offline entirely whenever I want to.
The Sequent Supercharger will undoubtedly be a success as it has quite the merits to win enough of us over to fund its goals rather quick as the gadget it is. To me though, it is just that: a well-thought gadget. It can never replace the stupendous A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph or the mesmerizing Grönefeld One Hertz like our editor in chief explained in his letter to the public a little while ago. No, the field of smart watches is too “gadgety” for us and will remain to be handled with skepticism throughout. Perhaps…. It is time for Apple to create a true hybrid watch. A watch with an in-house mechanical movement, true connectivity and all the imaginable notifications one might need displayed on a tiny Retina display covering a meticulously handcrafted and finished dial. Perhaps then they win us over to the smart side of watchmaking.
Specifications – Sequent Supercharger
- Case: 42,5mm x 14,8mm stainless steel – cradle like construction with movement “pod” mounted on top – various combinations of steel and black coated steel – 50 meter water resistance
- Dial: Convex shaped dial – straight hands – applied markers – cut-out for LED notification-indicator
- Movement: Hybrid mechanical-quartz movement – automatic winding – spring barrel system with micro generator to charge battery
- Notifications: Power reserve (analog display) – Biofeedback indication – heart rate sensor – step counter – accelerometer – GPS – Social Media notifications
- Strap: Horween leather – FKM Rubber – Cordura – various colors – special locking system
- Price: from CHF 1 (no joke!) to CHF 299 during the Kickstarter campaign, retail set at CHF 638 after campaign.