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Citizen-Fossil mash-up could make waves in the hybrid smartwatch market

Watchmaker Citizen will begin producing hybrid smartwatches using technology from the Fossil Group. The two companies have announced a multifaceted partnership based on hybrid watches, an area where Citizen has yet to make a splash, but Fossil is already highly accomplished.

There are three parts to the agreement. Citizen will produce movements that use Fossil’s hybrid technology, which will be sold as a component or inside complete watches. It’s not clear whether Citizen will sell this hybrid movement to companies outside its own family, nor do we know which of its own brands will use it. But the pair will continue to work together on future smartwatch technology.

A hybrid smartwatch, in case you’re not familiar with the phrase, is a Bluetooth-connected watch without a touchscreen. This enables notifications and other vibration alerts on your wrist,  along with fitness tracking features, from a device that looks exactly like a traditional watch. Fossil was one of the first to embrace hybrid technology, and we’ve enjoyed using its watches ever since. It has worked to refine the companion app, a crucial part of hybrid watch ownership, which we also hope will find its way into Citizen’s future watches.

While we have not seen a Citizen-branded smartwatch, the company has utilized Bluetooth connectivity in watches since 2006, in a similar way to competitor Casio with its connected G Shock watches. Citizen owns Swiss watch brand Frédérique Constant, which launched a complex mechanical hybrid watch under its name this year, along with another from Alpina, both to considerable acclaim. While Fossil’s technology is unlikely to be adopted by Frédérique Constant for this reason, there is a possibility Citizen will release hybrid watches under the Bulova or Caravelle names in addition to its own.

Citizen released a business plan recently, which outlined its strategy for the year and a target to double sales revenue it collected in 2012. Two of its tasks to help achieve this are to develop new customers, and develop new products and new technologies. Citizen’s CEO Toshio Tokura clearly recognizes the opportunity with smartwatches, and states the company is serious about its plans.

There’s no indication when we will see the first hybrid smartwatches from the Citizen and Fossil Group partnership.

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