Swiss watches are getting smart without sacrificing style

New devices from high-end watchmakers Frederique Constant, Mondaine and Alpina look like traditional timepieces but have motion and sleep tracking.

Alpina's horological watch tracks your movements and sleep. Josh Miller/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- At an event here Thursday evening, Swiss watchmakers Frederique Constant, Mondaine and Alpina and motion-tracking software company Fullpower announced the MMT Horological smartwatch platform, which hopes to bridge the gap between old-school traditional quartz watches and the smartwatches of the future.

For the new platform, which includes sensors, software and a cloud storage backup, the three luxury watch brands unveiled three new watches. Each has different styles and finishes, and keeps track of your movement and sleep, just like a fitness tracker does, using similar sensors.

The watches aren't anything like the typical smartwatches we've been seeing over the last few years. All have traditional designs with a regular watch face (no LEDs here) and subtle smart features. For instance, the Frederique Constant model tracks your sleep or movement with a small analog dial inside the traditional watch face. It also uses your phone's time and date to keep the watch set correctly. The Alpina and Mondaine watches have similar features, with slightly different designs.

Frederique Constant's new "smart" watch. Josh Miller/CNET

Like other smartwatches, these new watches connect to your phone, either Android or iOS, with an app and Bluetooth. Inside they have modular components, so that they can be updated as needed. Those components include micro-motors, gears and motion sensors.

These new watches also all have two-plus years battery life, much longer than other smartwatches, such as the Motorola Moto 360 or LG G Watch R , which must be charged every day or so. That's largely because these new Swiss watches lack screens to show your notifications or incoming calls, which saves battery life significantly.

These new watches are also significantly more expensive than the current smartwatches on the market. They'll start from around $500 (roughly £325 or AU$640) and go up from there, to more than $1,000.

The first watches that run on the MMT platform will be available in May. The big selling point for these new watches is that you get the styling of a traditional watch, with some of the advanced features that you'll find in a modern smartwatch.

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