If you are a faithful reader of worn&wound you know that we have covered a number of smart watches here in the recent past. From the upcoming Moto 360, a group shown off at CES 2014 and the in production Pebble, we’ve looked at quite a handful of watches that hope to bridge the gap from traditional wristwatches to what they hope are the future of wristwatches. All the ones we have seen to date all have similar extended features such as phone and text alerts, music controls and some other, limited features aside from time. They also have similar looks and construction in digital displays, quartz movements and many rectangular shapes. The appearance of these watches eschews the traditional look that watches have long held. There is, however, a smart watch that is hoping to combine both the old and the new: the Kairos mechanical smart watch.
The Kairos bills itself as a Mechanical Smart Watch hybrid, a watch with a mechanical movement that includes smart watch functions. On the surface the Kairos looks like a traditional watch: round case, analog hands and, yes, a mechanical movement powering the timekeeping functions. Laid over the top of the analog hands, however, is a transparent OLED display that provides the smart watch functions. This concept gives the watch a more traditional look with the advanced features appearing as needed. It is an idea that could possibly be very attractive to those who like the idea of a smart watch but prefer the appearance of a mechanical watch.
Inside the watch are actually two power sources: one is a mechanical movement powering the timekeeping functions and the second is a rechargeable (5-7 days on a charge) 180 mAh battery for the OLED display and the Bluetooth antenna. There are two mechanical movements being offered: a Miyota 8257 automatic movement or a Soprod A10BV-2 Swiss movement. Naturally the Miyota will lower the price of the watch a couple hundred dollars over the Swiss movement (more on price below) and each movement is available in a different model.
The design of the watch MSW 115 model is meant to capture the essence of old desktop computers. The renders show the sub-seconds dial as a fan blade design; the open heart feature showing the movement has a mesh cover and the dial has a circuit board style printing. Their hope is to capture the market of 30-40 year olds who grew up with desktop computers with these elements. Remarkably the design works without coming across as too geeky or nerdy. The movement inside the MSW 115 is the Miyota 8257.
The other design, the SSW 158, contains the Soprod Swiss movement and eliminates some of the computer style elements. The renders for this model retain the mesh cover over the open heart, but most of the other elements are different. The dial has expoded views of the 2, 3 8 and 9 hour markers and what looks like a 24 hour sub dial in the center of the dial.
The smart watch functions come into play via the OLED display that sits over the dial of the watch. The display is trasparent providing a clear view of the dial when not in use. When an element of the smart watch functions need to be used, the OLED display comes on and that function is shown as an overlay floating over the dial. The watch is touch capapable allowing the wearer to interact directly with the notifications, calls, messages, etc. right on the crystal of the watch. The operating system driving the smart watch functions is listed to be either Google’s new Android Wear or the Kairos OS. The difference are unclear other than the Kairos OS is listed as working with iOS, Android and Windows Phone. It appears to have the functions that we have started to get used to in a smart watch: notifications for messages, emails and phone calls, music controls, push alerts and fitness capabilities as well.
So far all the images of the Kairos have been computer renders. The team is still working on prototypes faced with the right level of transparency for the OLED display over the watch face. Right now pre-order is open for their “early bird” specials starting at $499 and going up to $1199. Delivery dates are still a ways out with the MSW 115 models epieted to ship in December 2014 and the SSW 158 options shipping in March 2015. The early bird pricing does end at the end of June and there is no note yet as to what the prices will be at that time.
The Kairos Smart Watch really looks to be the first potential watch that has the potential to capture an audience of watch lovers as well as tech lovers. With the smart watch features out of the way when not in use and the analog hands and mechanical movement providing the underlying time/watch functions it is a combination of old tech and new tech. Time will tell if they will be able to be successful with the Kairos. It is one smart watch worn&wound will be checking up on from time to time for sure. If you are interested in getting on board you can pre-order one of the smart watches on the Kairos website.
by James Enloe