8 of the best luxury smartwatches available to South Africans
The world of luxury smartwatches is a wild, wonderful, and expensive place.
There are some that come with a justifiable price tag — like the Emporio Armani Connected, which is "only" R4,550.
Others, like TAG Heuer's white gold and diamond-encrusted timepiece, cost more than most people make in a year.
And lets not forget the original luxury smartwatch, the elusive gold Apple Watch Edition, which was mostly reserved for celebrities (unfortunately, that watch will now stop getting updates from Apple, rendering it obsolete).
These high-end watches are not intended for the masses. While they often run the same technology as many low-cost smartwatches — Google's Wear OS — luxury watches bring something else to the table, like high-grade materials, expertise in areas like fitness tracking or navigation, or a name like Movado or Breitling.
So no, you don't exactly need a watch that costs significantly more than a mortgage — but it's fun to look.
Here are some of the most beautiful, expensive, and downright absurd luxury smartwatches you can buy.
Most fashionable: Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon Black (about R40,000)
Louis Vuitton offers a few versions of the Tambour Horizon smartwatch, but the black version — which has a stainless steel polished case and a black finish — costs around R40,000 from online retailers which export to South Africa.
The Tambour Horizon watch runs Google's Wear OS, formerly called Android Wear 2.0, and is compatible with both iPhone and Android devices. Louis Vuitton says the battery will last up to 22 hours with normal usage and is waterproof up to 30 metres. The watch does not have a heart rate monitor, however.
What sets the Tambour Horizon watch apart from other Android Wear watches is that it's geared toward global travelers. You can add your upcoming flights, there's a "City Guide" application, and the watch includes a 24-hour clock that shows weather and temperatures for different time zones.
Most Expensive: TAG Heuer Connected Modular, $180,000 (R2.4 million)
The main thing to know about the TAG Heuer Connected Modular watch is that it's "paved with white gold" and covered in 589 diamonds. Altogether, that makes it the most expensive smartwatch in the world, clocking in at $180,000.
The watch is both beautiful and smart, however — it runs Wear OS, so it's capable of notifications and fitness tracking. TAG Heuer says the watch gets about 25 hours of battery life.
A more affordable version, the TAG Heuer Connected Modular 45 is available in South Africa for R25,250.
Most minimalist: Mondaine Helvetica 1 Smart Watch (R9,999)
Much like the typeface that inspired its name, Mondaine's Helvetica 1 Smart Watch is modern and minimalist.
While it may look like a standard analog watch, the Mondaine smartwatch is a hybrid — it has fitness and sleep tracking built in, and can even automatically set itself when it senses it's in a new time zone.
And unlike a regular smartwatch, the Mondaine smartwatch doesn't need to be charged. In fact, Mondaine says it has about two years of battery life.
While it is cheaper in other markets, the watch retails for below R10,000 in South Africa.
Sportiest: Breitling Exospace B55 (R85,900)
Breitling's Exospace B55 connected watch isn't for everyone — in fact, it's specially made for "pilots and yachtsman." The Breitling watch is another mostly analogue watch with some smart features built in.
Using Breitling's made-from-scratch smartphone app, you can do things like set the time, set alarms, and adjust the time zone. According to CNET, the watch can also receive notifications like emails, SMSes, phone calls, and calendar notifications on one of its LCD displays, and it can get about two months of battery life.
You can buy the watch on a international online shop like Chrono24, and have it exported to South Africa for an additional R396.
Most over-achieving: Garmin Fenix Chronos, R18,500 - R42,000
Garmin's Fenix Chronos watch was made with serious athletes in mind.
The watch has robust heart rate sensors built in, and is intended to replace a chest strap for those who are looking for the most accurate possible heart rate readings. The watch can also count your steps, calculate running speed, monitor your sleep, measure calories burned, and can determine the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume each minute.
It will even track your fitness goals over time and set a recovery timer for when you finish your workout. The Fenix watch isn't limited to standard activities like weight-lifting, cycling, or running — it can also track swimming, skiing, golding, paddle boarding, and rowing.
Besides fitness tracking, the Chronos watch has built-in GPS, gets between 13 hours and one week of battery life, and can receive notifications like calls, texts, and emails.
While on sale for below R20,000 in other markets, the only local retailer we could find that had it in stock sells the watch for almost R42,000.
Most classic: Montblanc Summit, (R12,500)
The Montblanc Summit watch may not be cheap, but it will also never go out of style.
While it may look classic, however, the Summit watch runs Wear OS. It's capable of navigation, translations, and call and text notifications. The Summit watch also has a heart rate sensor, fitness tracking, and on-watch memory so you can download music. Montblanc says the watch gets about a full day of battery life.
Unfortunately, the Montblanc Summit is temporarily unavailable online at the time of writing, so you'll have to wait for it to be back in stock.
Best-looking: Emporio Armani Connected (R4,450)
The newest — and best-looking — addition to the luxury smartwatch world is the new rose gold Emporio Armani Connected watch.
The Wear OS watch features fitness tracking, notifications, apps, music, and customisable watch faces. While the watch comes in several colours besides rose gold — including silver, blue, and two shades of black — the rose gold version with the metal mesh band is downright stunning.
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