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Swatch reveals smart watch you don't need to charge each night – or ever

With the Apple Watch debut only months away, legacy timepiecemaker Swatch made waves with the announcement it is set to drop its own smart watch, that won't need to be charged, in the next three months. 

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    File picture of Swatch watches taken in a Swatch store in Bern February 4, 2013. Swatch will debut a smart watch this spring.
    Pascal Lauener/REUTERS
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Usually news about smart watches comes from a tech company looking to introduce yet another mobile device. But this time, it’s a watch company, Swatch, that is aiming to get into the technology game with its own smart watch.

And Swatch has something people are probably going to want: a smart watch that doesn’t need to be charged.

The Switzerland-based watch company, primarily known for its funky, brightly colored fashion wristwatches, told investors it is creating a smart watch that will not need to be recharged.

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The watch, which will likely be released in the next two to three months, will be able to make mobile payments, connect to the Internet, and work with multiple operating systems (though not Apple's iOS), according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Does this tech outsider, but timepiece insider, have a device that could compete with Apple on the eve of the Apple Watch?

Nick Hayek, chief executive of Swatch, didn’t say much further beyond the above details to Bloomberg when making this announcement, but that hasn’t stopped speculation. The company has previously mentioned a hope to add fitness tracking to its watches, which is now a standard feature on smart devices. The company also makes relatively affordable luxury timepieces (usually below $200) so we could see a price comparative or even below the Apple Watch’s $349 starting price (though that is not counting the cost of the required iPhone). It isn’t likely that Swatch’s offering will provide any sort of smart watch innovations, but for someone curious about the option of adding tech to their everyday watch, this could play well.

Though the smart watches have been primarily tech companies’ game thus far, legacy watchmakers have started to hint at their own smart offerings. Tag Heur and Montblanc both dabbled in smart tech this year, with Tag Heuer set to release a watch with GPS and health monitoring functions, and Montblanc debuting a smart band for its watchband that tracks user activity.

Tech experts are intrigued, but skeptical of Swatch’s upcoming offering. VentureBeat’s Mark Sullivan points out that though the interest in smart watches is clearly heating up, Swatch’s CEO wasn’t on board until as recently as two years ago, when he said the smart watch wouldn’t be a “revolution” for the industry. That internal skepticism may show through in the device.

“Swatch is an old-school Swiss watchmaker struggling to make peace with a very new paradigm,” he writes. “The point is that when a company’s CEO finally throws his weight behind a product category just months before the market leader (Apple) is set to announce its flagship product, the internal culture in a huge group like Swatch can’t be firing on all cylinders when it comes to designing and building a killer smart watch.”

Regardless, with the Apple, Samsung, Sony, Pebble, and now Swatch getting in the game, the race for your wrist is on this spring.

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