It’s Milan fashion week, you’ve got tickets to the catwalk shows and an
outfit to die for, but which watch to wear? A chunky smart watch or chic
ticker that can’t tell the time?

Ahead of the hotly-anticipated Apple Watch launch this year, expected
to revolutionise
tech wearables, there are already watches you can use to check
emails, Facebook or the weather, play games or even get your kettle to

Purists might say such a gadget would only distract from the delights of
watching Prada, Versace or Armani, but critics and buyers are notoriously
mannered anyway, often texting or taking selfies in shows, so they might as
well be on their watches.

Bare wrists have been all the rage at Milan’s autumn-winter 2015 shows, but
an accessory the fashion world had dropped as one less thing to worry about
now making a comeback.

With the rise of the smartphone a decade or so ago came the demise of the
ordinary watch — its rebirth is said to have begun nearly three years ago
with Pebble, which created one of the world’s first official smart watches.

That sparked a flurry of activity which will result this year in items on
the must-have geek list such as the Puls, built on the Android system, and
Activite Pop for exercise fiends.

But smart watches have already drawn criticism for being bulky and, with
serious fashionista willing to look nerdy, watchmakers and technology
developers have been racing to find a way to win over the female market.

Side-stepping the techno race

Successes so far have been thin on the ground, the most notable attempt
coming from Ornate, whose Lutetia smartwatch claims to be just the ticket
women but which boasts raffish beaded wristbands which risk falling flat
high-end customers.

Some companies, like Italian start-up D1 Milano, have decided to
the techno race and salvage the watch by transforming it into a purely
aesthetic accessory.

Amid the bustle of shows, D1 unveiled what it claims is the world’s first
thermochromic watch, which changes colour as the room temperature inches up.
A sleek black which transforms into a green or grey camouflage pattern,
watch — the brainchild of 22-year old designer Alessandro Pedersoli and his
three co-founders — is selling well in the Middle East in particular.

Thermochromic inks first appeared on the fashion scene in the 1970s with
mood rings — which claimed to show the wearer’s emotional state by reading
their body heat — before the technology moved to T-shirts and shorts in the

Having the world know you were sweating because blotchy patches appeared
under your arms, back and crotch proved a trend-killer however.
Instead of ink, D1 is using resin — the stuff usually used on factory
pipes as a warning system against overheating — which it has adjusted to
react at 27 degrees Celsius, when it becomes transparent to reveal the

The company’s next project will be to bring out new versions of their
octagonal-faced tickers twice a year, in line with both the spring/summer
autumn/winter shows — ideally anticipating some of the trends on the

It is too soon to say whether fashion’s finest will be hooked, but they
will still have to rely on their phones, because these watches may be pretty
but they’re not designed to tell you the time. (Ella Ide, AFP)

Photos: AFP

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