Smartwatches are a hot topic at Baselworld

Smartwatches are a hot topic at Baselworld
Pebble Steel smartwatches.

Smartwatches were hardly spotted at the just-ended Baselworld 2014, the week-long annual watch show - but they were a hot topic of discussion.

Swiss watch executives at the show held in Basel, Switzerland, were pretty relaxed about the phenomenon of wearable computers that carry out functions beyond time-keeping, and pointed out that the technology still seems to need refining, but they are watching the smartwatch industry with interest all the same.

Sales of smartwatches have been slow to get off the mark since the first model was launched in the middle of last year, said Gerard Tan, the account director for Digital World in GfK Asia.

The global marketing research firm, which tracks smartwatch sales, noted that around US$345,000 (S$432,000) in smartwatches were sold globally in January and February this year.

Here in Singapore, nearly 1,400 pieces were sold in that time.

Mr Tan said: "Singapore, with its status as a modern and developed country, has been chosen as one of the first markets in the region for manufacturers to launch their initial models of smartwatches."

He attributes the slow take-up rate for smartwatches to their limitations in choice and features, but said demand for them will rise as they get smarter.

But will there come a point at which they pose a threat to traditional mechanical timepieces, the same way that Japanese quartz watches almost wiped out the Swiss watch industry in the 1980s?

For now, no, it would seem.

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