After my exploits at London Fashion Week withHenry Holland's contactless payment ring,this week, I jetted off to Milan to attend Vogue China's 10th Anniversary Party and test out a limited editionHuawei Watch, because, apparently, fashion brands can't get enough of awkward, geeky tech journalists...
In terms of functionality, the limited edition watch is identical to the regular Huawei Watch. It runs Android Wear, which is both a blessing and a non-blessing.
The drawback with Android Wear is that it's identical across all devices, bar from a few custom watch faces and apps, whether it's Sony, LG, Motorola, or Huawei. This makes it difficult for manufacturers to differentiate themselves, and ultimately, the devices end up being a bit samey.
Of course, this does also mean that consumers can pick up any Android Wear smartwatch and, assuming they've handled one before, instantly know how to operate it. And also, Android Wear happens to be a pretty decent OS, the UI being perfectly suited to small screens. There are ample apps, and it's compatible with both iOS and Android.
This forces manufacturers to stand out with hardware design, but limited by the size of hardware (and being a tech company, who doesn't know much about fashion), means it can be difficult to stand out. Just compare the Moto 360 (2015) with the Huawei Watch, and the Samsung Gear S2 with the new LG Urbane.
The result is they don't feel special enough, they don't stand out, and although they may be perfect for tech die-hards like you and I, ultimately most people will become disillusioned with them.
Enter the fashion designers, who know how to make something feel special, or at least charge you more for it and make it feel like they're doing you a favour.
This is the box for the limited edition, Fornasetti-designed Huawei Watch. Pretty special, right? Not only does it look good, but opening it felt like opening a piece of jewelry, unlike all previous experiences which felt like unboxing a piece of technology.
The watch stands out as well, using Fornasetti's Malachite print on the leather strap and a custom watch face, it's very much a decorative timepiece, as well as being functional.
The same can be seen with the Hermes Apple Watchstrap, which makes the Watch almost a fashion accessory first, with added smartwatch functionality as a side benefit.
Only 1,000 of the Fornacetti watches have been made and they were given out as part of Vogue China's 10 AnniversaryCelebration, so you'll never be able to buy one, unless they make their way onto eBay. Mine won't, definitely.
Not only does the watch look good, it feels special. The leather is soft, and it stands out more than the typical grey, black and brown leather straps of previous smartwatches. It's a statement piece rather than an everyday watch. That makes you feel special as a result. Just look how happy these models wearingare:
Maybe this needs to be the next evolution of the smartwatch, movingaway from mass produced, vanilla designs, to more bespoke pieces. Tag Heuer's Android Wear watch could be the next, or maybe the Fossil.