For the last six months, a small team at Pebble has worked in secret to create a watch that looks as good as it works – thus Pebble Steel. It does exactly the same things as the original Pebble, but looks far nicer on the wrist while doing them.
As with Pebble before, there was no shortage of early concepts. The concept above shows the smartwatch encased in metal with a matte finish.
In the end, only two concepts were good enough for final consideration, with the more traditional of the two getting the nod according to Pebble’s Steven Johns, lead industrial designer responsible for Pebble and Steel. Click through this gallery for a look at more early Steel concepts.
Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky describes Steel as a more formal version of Pebble: "I'm going out for dinner, I'm wearing a suit, I've got a position that doesn't allow me to wear a plastic watch on my wrist. How do I benefit from a smartwatch?...We just had to build an aesthetically different Pebble."
Another concept for Steel -- or Bianca, as some Pebble employees prefer to call it. Bianca was Steel's codename, a character from "The Adventures of Tintin" comics. Indeed, Pebble itself was "Tintin" during development.
Reducing the size of the watch was a major consideration as well, the team hoping to add some additional appeal to the fairer sex along the way. "Part of the idea was to bring it to be a little more feminine," said Johns. "I was desperately trying to shrink the overall profile."
Pebble's Steven Johns said some of the early Steel concepts were meant to pay homage to "the precursors, the old calculator watches from Casio. Not an inspiration directly, but certainly a precursor with a nice flat screen."
A concern for Pebble Steel was durability of the watch face itself. "We were looking at doing a sapphire lens or Gorilla Glass," said Pebble’s Steven Johns. Ultimately the team went with Gorilla Glass, thanks to the cost, thinness, and durability of the material.