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Wearable Tech

Smart strap puts high-tech brains on a dumbwatch

Luxury watch maker Montblanc believes you can have a classy traditional watch without bypassing smatchwatch-style notifications and activity tracking.

Montblanc e-strap
Strap on some smartwatch brains. Montblanc

Luxury accessories maker Montblanc is known for supplying high-end old-school supplies like $1,000 fountain pens, leather briefcases and mechanical watches marked with "price available upon request." It's not exactly the sort of company you expect to throw its hat into the ring with the likes of Samsung, Apple and LG.

According to watch blog A Blog to Watch, however, Montblanc is preparing to offer a smartwatch...after a fashion. The company will be offering a device called the e-Strap as an option for its Timewalker Urban Speed collection. The smart strap adds notifications, activity monitoring and app connectivity to the underside of the watch, so you don't spoil the view of the beautiful traditional timepiece on top.

The e-Strap is reported to have an OLED monochromatic touchscreen display, just a little less than an inch wide. It handles all the basic functions you'd expect from a smartwatch, such as displaying texts and emails, as well as alerting you to calendar events or reminders. A pedometer and accelerometer help keep track of your fitness goals.

Montblanc's standard Timewalker collection features watches in the $3,400 to $8,400 range, to give you an idea of the audience the company is aiming for. You have to be a seriously well-heeled watch person to invest in one of those. It makes the expected $349 price of an Apple Watch look like peanuts. The e-Strap is expected to retail for $300 (about £195, AU$370).

The e-Strap is an intriguing response to the growing hype around smartwatches. With Apple expected to release its own Apple Watch early this year, the pressure is on traditional watch companies to make a case for relevancy in the modern tech age. There will always be fans for both fancy and plain (I love my Casio) traditional timepieces, but soon those fans should be able to embrace the world of wrist-based notifications without sacrificing classic style.

Montblanc Timewalker with e-strap
From the front, it looks like a regular luxury watch. Montblanc