Are you ready for Rolex Pay? Smart glass brings contactless payment to ANY mechanical watch

'Smart' watch crystal means your Swiss watch could soon handle contactless payments

‘Smart glass’ brings contactless payment tech to ANY mechanical watch
(Image credit: MuchBetter/Winwatch)

As much as we love traditional Swiss watches at T3, we often long for them being just that little bit smarter. Imagine being able to make contactless payments with your Rolex, for example, or tap your Omega to open the train station barrier.

That dream is now a reality, thanks to payments company MuchBetter and Winwatch, a provider of Swiss watch glass. Together, they have created a 'smart' watch sapphire crystal embedded with the wireless tech needed to make contactless payments.

Essentially taking the innards of your bank card and hiding them inside the sapphire crystal of a watch, the firms have created what looks like a normal, analogue watch, but with the ability to make contactless payments.

The finances are handled by the MuchBetter wallet, which is topped up with funds via a smartphone app. You’re then able to tap the watch against a payment terminal to make payments, while your phone and wallet are in your pockets, or even left at home.

(Image credit: MuchBetter/Winwatch)

The smart glass can make payments of up to £45, which is the regular contactless limit and was increased to help avoid the spread of illnesses via the buttons of card machines. With businesses also trying to limit the amount of potentially contaminated cash handed over by customers, wireless payment tech for regular watches has come at the right time, its makers say.

MuchBetter and Winwatch aren’t producing a watch of their own – beyond the proof-of-concept photographed above, anyway. Instead, they are hoping to partner with leading Swiss watchmakers in a bid to get the smart glass on our wrists.

MuchBetter co-founder Jens Bader said: “People are loathed [sic] to give up their expertly crafted analogue watch in exchange for a smartwatch that may be obsolete in just a few years. That's why there's such a big gap in the market for people who see the benefit of some adding some smart features like payments to their beloved analogue watch – especially now while contactless payments are not just highly convenient, but fundamental for public health.”

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.