Samsung wants to get its hands on wristwatch market too

The South Korean electronics giant's next arm-wrestling match with Apple may be over smart wristwatches that act as smartphones.

Can the Martian Passport tell it's time for more faces in the smartwatch arena?
Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple isn't the only company itching to get its hands on the wristwatch market. A Samsung executive tells Bloomberg that it too has been working on wearable devices that act like smartphones.

"We've been preparing the watch product for so long," Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, said during an interview with Bloomberg in Seoul. "We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them."

Lee offered no specifics when it came to features, price, or target release date. The South Korean electronics giant already has a pretty active product release calendar scheduled for 2013, with three high-end smartphones expected to ratchet up its competition with rival Apple.

The disclosure comes after reports last month that Apple already has a team of 100 people working on a rumored smart wristwatch, sometimes called "iWatch," including some prominent Apple employees. Key members of the team are said to include James Foster, Apple's senior director of engineering, and Achim Pantfoerder, a program manager who is credited with 13 Apple patents, including an electronic sighting compass and ambient light sensor.

Other reports have it that Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices that sported curved glass. However, a team of this size and with such prominent membership suggests the company might be farther ahead than the experimental phase.

Of course, neither company is exactly breaking new ground with the development of Dick Tracy-like tech. A lot of smartwatches, fitness bands, or some hybrid of the two, were talked up earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. Some of those devices include the the long-awaited Pebble wristwatch, which made its debut at the conference, and the 007-inspired Martian Passport Watch.

Apple itself even encouraged wearing previous versions of the iPod Nano on wrists in 2011, with manufacturers selling watchbands that could be attached to the Nano to wear it as a wristwatch.