Montblanc has presented its e-Strap, which has a small electronic unit worn on the inside of the wrist and in bluetooth communication with your mobile phone. So it’s going in the same direction as the Apple Watch, but instead of having to wear that uncool square chunk of sapphire, you still have a smart mechanical watch on the front of the wrist, with a smart device on the other side. It’s the same sort of mechanical-electronic integration that appears in the Reconvilier Hercules Golf Master. The e-Strap unit has a touchscreen bright enough to be read easily in daylight, and the unit with a stainless steel case is inserted into the special strap.
Montblanc’s e-Strap operates as an activity tracker, a display unit for notifications from a mobile phone, and an interface that can be used to control certain functions of the phone. Notifications are signalled by a vibration, and you can read emails, check incoming calls, social media updates, and receive reminders for pre-set events. The activity tracker is a useful function for runners and joggers, measuring paces, calories consumed and distance covered, integrated with a smartphone app that provides information on weekly and monthly fitness targets.
The e-Strap helps you take selfies: you can hold the smartphone further away and touch the e-Strap device to actually take the picture. It provides a remote control for the music stored on the smartphone. It has a “find me” function so that either device can be used to find the other, within a range of 30 metres.
The unit is charged every 5 days by means of a standard micro-USB cable. It is compatible with a variety of Samsung, Android and Apple smartphones.
The strap itself is also a high-technology hybrid, in which leather is given a carbon-fibre-type surface by means of a process that links the leather to a high-tech material to improve water-resistance and strength. But the e-Strap with the electronic unit can be slipped on to any 20-22 mm strap as long as it can be slotted through the holes on each side of the stainless steel frame.
The e-Strap is accompanied by three new TimeWalker models that can be purchased with the e-Strap, a chronograph, a watch with a second time zone, and a three-hand watch with date. They are the Urban Speed Chronograph e-Strap (reference 112604), the TimeWalker Urban Speed UTC e-Strap (reference 113828) and the TimeWalker Urban Speed Date Automatic e-Strap (reference 113850). They all feature the modern lines characteristic of the TimeWalker collection, with a 42/43 mm dial, case in cold grey satin steel with DLC coating, and a dial in which the black background contrasts with white numerals and red detailing. All have a sapphire display caseback revealing the movement. The e-Strap itself has the reference number 113827. The new models and the e-Strap will be available in Montblanc boutiques from June 2015.