Price is a delicate subject when it comes to smartwatches. Anything more than around $150 is viewed as expensive, and those topping $300 need to be something very special to attract much attention. But ordinary watches – without the smart big – can command the same price as a new car with the right luxury designs. Will smartwatches be able to do the same?
Creoir thinks so. We met with the Finnish firm at Mobile World Congress, which has developed a concept luxury smartwatch that combines the best of both worlds. It’s called the Ibis, and ranks alongside the Hyetis Crossbow as one of the most visually striking designs we’ve seen. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of Creoir. It’s more used to working behind the scenes, making mobile devices for other companies. Recently, it worked on the Jolla smartphone.
The Ibis concept is based on the needs of the luxury watch consumer, who also wants smartwatch functionality. It has a dual-screen layout, with a traditional analog quartz watch mounted above a small OLED touchscreen, keeping the traditionalist happy and still indulging the inner geek. The body is crafted from stainless steel, and clearly designed for women in this case, while the screen is covered in crystal. Seeing and handling the Ibis made me wonder, “Is this the smartwatch Vertu would build?”
Luxury smartwatches are coming
Maybe, yes, or at least its own creative take on it. Creoir is shopping the Ibis around as a concept device, waiting to partner up with the right company to put the watch into production. There’s no set specs or design, meaning everything could change, but the ethos will always remain. The watch is a reference design, much like hardware we’ve seen in the past from Intel and Nvidia, showing what’s possible.
Creoir has also come up with an Android-based custom UI for the Ibis’ smart part, which it demonstrated on a small, separate touchscreen. It worked solely using gestures, and delivers notifications from your smartphone, along with music and other remote control functions. It would be compatible with both iOS and Android, include Bluetooth connectivity, and benefit from an accelerometer, a digital compass, and an ambient light sensor.
When picking up the Ibis, its immense weight is immediately obvious, but this would change should it go into production, with a final weight of around 150 grams being the target. This is slightly more than a luxury watch like the iconic Rolex Submariner. The curved crystal display looked great, and while the design is unusual (and not really for me), it certainly stands out. It certainly looks nothing like any other smartwatch on sale.
Creoir’s Sales and Marketing Director Ismo Karali has a bold plan for the Ibis and any product spawned by the concept, saying he’d like the eventual product to last for many years, instead of being another disposable piece of consumer electronics. Naturally, he’s inspired by classic timepieces, often handed down through the generations, and notes that it’s not only about the look and materials, but futureproofing the software too. ‘It’ll need to work with the iPhone 16,’ he quipped. It’s a lofty goal, but not unobtainable with the right device.
At the moment, he couldn’t share any official details on companies interested in the Ibis, but did say should the right deal be struck, a version of the Ibis could be on sale by Christmas. The price? That all depends on the eventual brand, but as names like Christian Dior and Tag Hauer were mentioned as examples, so expect to pay a considerable premium for this one. Vertu and its competitors proved there’s a market for a luxury smartphone, and in the near future, those same buyers may want a high-price, exclusive smart timepiece to go with it.