If you want the functionality of a smartwatch, but don't want to give up your old wrist timepiece, you can always settle for an add-on module or a smartband, but they don't offer much for the haute horlogerie market – until now. The TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap series by Montblanc bills itself as the "first luxury brand to combine wearable technology with fine watchmaking."
Like other smartbands, Montblanc's e-Strap takes the functions of a smartwatch and moves them to an electronics pack in the band, which frees the wearer to use a more conventional mechanical or other watch. In this case, the electronics are sealed in a steel case with rubber gaskets inside an interchangeable, adjustable pass-through strap.
The strap itself is of "extreme leather" made by Montblanc Pelleteria in Florence. Designed to match the cases of the TimeWalker watch line, the upper surface of the strap is treated with carbon, which bonds with the leather. This not only gives it its distinctive appearance, but Montblanc claims that it also makes it stronger, more durable, abrasion- and water-resistant, and water-, heat-, and fire-repellent.
The e-Strap has Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity that allows it to pair with selected Android and iOS smartphones, such as the iPhone 4S and later, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S4, and others. It features a daylight-readable touchscreen display for previewing emails, reading texts, monitoring incoming calls, checking status updates and social media, and receiving appointment reminders. In addition, it provides vibration alerts, and the e-Strap also acts as a remote control for a paired smartphone's music player and camera.
There is also an activity function that allows the strap to act as a pedometer, measures distances traveled, and calories burned, while the Find Me function allows the strap to locate the paired phone within a radius of 30 m (100 ft).
The e-Strap can be fitted to other watches, but it's designed specifically for the TimeWalker Urban Speed line, which comes in three models: the automatic, UTC with second time zone, and a three-hand chronograph recording hours, minutes, seconds and date. The 42 or 43 mm cases are available in a “cold grey” micro-blasted steel finish or black diamond-like carbon. All have automatic movements and the reverse has a window showing off the automatic movement. Meanwhile, the front is dominated by the large dial, narrow bezel, and skeletonized horns.
The Montblanc TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap series will be available in June with prices ranging from €2,990 (US$3,750) for the automatic to €4,690 (US$,600) for the chronograph. The e-Strap is also available separately for €350 (US$418).