If you're jealous of your friends being able to pay for Tube trains, bus rides, meals and shopping with a tap of their Apple Watch, but still prefer traditional analogue watches, then have I got good news for you…
Swatch has recently introduced SwatchPay, a way to make contactless payments without needing to search through your pockets or purse for your phone or wallet!
I've been wearing a Swatch equipped with SwatchPay for a few weeks now, paying for everything I possibly can to find out whether SwatchPay is a pointless novelty or useful innovation.
Is it the Swiss watch industry's fight back against the Apple Watch? Let's find out…
The first thing that I noticed when using SwatchPay is how interested people were in it – that's because the payment function of SwatchPay is completely hidden and the selection of watches look just like normal Swatch watches.
It has never been so easy to impress friends when it’s time to pay for a round of drinks. The only issue is, every time you go to use SwatchPay in view of someone else, you're filled with the fear that it won't work – making you look like a crazy person who thinks they're wearing an Apple Watch when they're really wearing a mechanical watch.
Thankfully, my Swatch worked every time I used it, saving me from embarrassment.
So how exactly does it work? Hidden inside each SwatchPay model is an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip that works in the same way as the ones in bank cards to enable contactless payments. The added benefit is that the NFC chip doesn’t drain the watch battery.
Simply move the watch close to the payment terminal at the checkout counter, the terminal reader exchanges payment information with the chip, and that’s all there is to it!
You don't even need to keep your phone near the watch – it can be left at home and SwatchPay will still work.
If you lose the watch (which must be extremely rare, you're more likely to lose a purse or wallet) then you can suspend or reactivate the payment function of the watch with a single tap on a smartphone using the SwatchPay app.
The SwatchPay app is powered by Curve in the UK. That means you have to sign up for a Curve account and link it to the SwatchPay app. This can be a little awkward – I had a few issues linking to two apps – but once it's complete you can pretty much forget about it.
The entire process took a few minutes, though, I do think it's a shame you can't sign up with your existing debit card.
In terms of hardware, like all other Swatch models, watches with SwatchPay are water-resistant to a depth of 30 metres, and you can choose from a variety of models from the Gent, New Gent and BIG BOLD product lines.
You can see the full selection of models here (opens in new tab). I opted for the neat 34mm 'WhitePay' model. It's incredibly comfortable, with a classic lightweight case and soft silicone strap.
SwatchPay watches are available across the UK now, with prices starting from a very reasonable £66.