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Emporio Armani unveils hybrid smartwatch

The luxury fashion brand jumps into the connected wearables market just as smartwatch shipments tank.

Emporio Armani may just have the worst timing -- or the best.

The luxury Italian fashion brand announced Tuesday it is getting into the connected wearables market with the launch of a collection of new hybrid smartwatches. In addition to the ability to sync with smartphones, the watches sport activity and sleep trackers, quartz batteries to eliminate the need to recharge, and help locating a lost phone, among other features.

But Armani's foray comes as the market for smartwatches is tanking. The number of smartwatches shipped during the third quarter declined 52 percent compared with the same July-to-September period last year, according to a report by IDC wearables analysts. Part of that was due to Google's decision to hold back on Android Wear 2, forcing vendors to rely on "older, aging devices to satisfy customers," IDC said

Armani's smartwatches are handsome if a bit pricey. They feature a texturized traditional round face with sweeping hour and minute hands. Starting at $250 to $400, depending on the model, the watches are available in rose-gold tone, black, gunmetal and stainless steel, with a three-piece link or leather strap.

Will luxury styling make a difference for Armani? Time will tell.