Swatch is just about to officially launch Touch Zero One. It's the oddest 'smartwatch' ever!

It's got volleyball-related functions, is being launched at a beach volleyball event, but it definitely isn't just for volleyball fans, no sir

Casio's got a smartwatchin the pipeline (its G-Shock line already has some smart features),Tag Heuer's luxe Android Wear watchis incoming. But Swatch is getting in firstwith a wearable. I know, because I've just flown in for the launch. The one slight issue? The Touch Zero One - that's the smartwatch that Swatch is launching - may well be the oddest wearable ever released.

Now, hands up who likes volleyball? If you do, this may well be the wearable you've been waiting for. This touchscreen watch tracks your "spikes" and "bumps", for a start. So if you know what that means, you're probably very excited.

Now I must admit I thought this sounded pretty niche, but Swatch assures me that it isn't just for volleyball players. Despite the fact it's being launched at a beach volleyball tournament, inKlagenfurt, Austria - where, incidentally, it's currently raining.

I really hope that's the case because if it does turn out to be a more general fitness wearable with an inexplicable volleyball twist, it could be really rather good.

The styling and screen visibility - at least going on these images - are a big improvement on the original Swatch Touch, which was the brand's first 'connected' product - and to be fair, Swatch is at pains to make that distinction, rather than using the 'smart' word.

Swatch promises long life using just a standard watch battery - similar to the Withings Activité range - with 18 functions controlled via the touchscreen and "access to far more info via an app," which is described as being "playful and fun" by a Swatch spokesperson. The only question is whether said info all relates to volleyball or not.

Hot on the heels of the Vector smartwatch, the Touch Zero One is another example of a "tech" product, as readers of this site would understand it, made by a fashion-focussed brand. It seems to me to be the kind of thing the wearables market needs if it's to rise above the niche concern that it largely is at present. Above, indeed, the point where even Apple can't shift more than a few million of its Watches in a quarter.

The Touch Zero One is also, of course, a dry run for Swatch's proper smartwatch. The brand's CEO Nick Hayek told Reuters and Wall Street Journal earlier this year that such a device would include NFC for payments and Bluetooth for notifications, and implied that, as with the Touch Zero One, it would run for months on a standard battery rather than for days on a rechargeable one.

The launch is in a few hours, so hands-on time is looming. Will the result be a slam dunk or an own goal? Or whatever the volleyball equivalent of those things is. Find out very soon…

Read our roundup of the best smartwatches around, most of them non-volleyball-related

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years and fitness ever since he became middle aged and realised he could no longer rely solely on his boyish good looks. He used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."
Pre-lockdown Duncan was widely regarded as the best-dressed man ever to work for T3 – admittedly not saying much. Post-lockdown he is looking forward to wearing clothes other than shorts and hoodies again very soon, assuming he can still fit into them. He currently writes about cycling, fitness tech that isn’t too heavy, and all things kitchen and home related.