Fans of traditional mechanical watches are not generally enamored with smartwatches. They love the elegance, sophisticated styling, and impeccable quality of a well-made, high-value traditional watch and do not believe that the functionality of a smartwatch is worth putting up with switching to an LCD display, digital output, and high price.
Chronos is attempting to remedy this situation by allowing users of traditional watches to add some functionality to their watches in a subtle and unobtrusive way. The Chronos device is a waterproof 2.5 mm metal disk that attaches to the back of your watch via microsuction devices. It allows you to adopt some basic functions of your smartwatch like health tracking and notifications through the use of an app on your Apple iOS or Android device.
How Does It Work?
Prototypes for iOS are in the field for testing now, and production units for both iOS and Android are expected to be released in the spring of 2016. The Chronos disk features a stainless steel water-resistant case. Internal features include an accelerometer, haptic vibrations, LED output for notifications, and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy communications.
At 33 mm in diameter, it is capable of fitting over 80% of the watches that are sold today, although it would be wise to double check the fit with older heirloom watches. The disk is so thin that it does not affect the basic feel of the watch, yet it stays in place with normal activity. Reviews of the prototypes suggest that the seal holds well and is easily removed by slipping a fingernail or thin object under the edge. It may be necessary to adjust bands slightly to account for the difference in thickness.
Chronos is recharged via a charging pad that produces approximately 36 hours of operating time with a three-hour charge. The charging pad does not magnetize or affect traditional watches in any way, so the Chronos disk does not have to be removed from the watch to recharge the system.
The Chronos app allows you to sync with the iOS HealthKit and bring your health data into the watch, allowing you to monitor things like calories burned, steps walked, and distance traveled. Presumably, the same functions will be available for analogous Android systems.
Notifications can be as jarring or subtle as you want. You can set notifications to be specific to either people or apps and can use either vibration patterns or flashing LED colors (eight vibration patterns or six colors). There are even gesture-based controls, where you can tap your watch in different ways to perform tasks like silencing calls or remotely activating your phone's camera (essentially a subtle alternative to a selfie stick).
Chronos does a very nice job of integrating the best aspects of fitness tracking and notification functions into a package that can be completely transparent to the average mechanical watch wearer. After a simple adjustment, wearers should notice no difference in the feel and appearance of the watch, and observers will not notice the difference either.
When Can You Get It?
Preorders are available for $89 on the Night Owl special (for a limited time only) or $99 at the Chronos website. Sorry, but the early-bird special price of $79 is no longer available. Once the product is fully launched in the spring, the expected retail price will be $129.If you are a fan of mechanical watches or have an heirloom watch you are completely attached to, but you find the utility of a smartwatch appealing, the Chronos system may be just what you have been looking for. Enjoy the technology of today alongside the craftsmanship of the past.