Swatch smartwatch to go on sale in two countries

The watch will have an NFC chip to allow mobile payments

The Swatch One Touch is the watchmaker's first fitness tracker and will come out in August.

The Swatch One Touch is the watchmaker's first fitness tracker and will come out in August.

Swatch, the Swiss watchmaker known for its colorful products, will launch its smartwatch in two countries, entering a crowded space that includes tech heavyweights Apple and Google.

The watch will launch in Switzerland and another large country in next three months, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek said during a company meeting, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Hayek didn't offer more information on the second nation, although Swatch has payment deals with China UnionPay, a Chinese bank card group. Swatch also set up partnerships with an unnamed Swiss bank and large credit card company, according to earlier comments from Hayek.

As previously reported, the watch will use an NFC (near field communication) chip to enable mobile payments.

Since announcing its smartwatch ambitions in February, Swatch has been mum on the details. Information like what OS the device will run, its price and battery life haven't been made available. Swatch didn't immediately reply to a request for comment. Hayek has previously said the smartwatch will work with Windows and Android software.

Swatch was a reluctant and late entry into the wearables market. Two years ago Hayek dismissed the impact smartwatches would have on the watch industry, saying the devices wouldn't be as revolutionary as predicted. Even last year Hayek questioned consumer interest in devices with small screens that required frequent charging.

Since then, Hayek has changed his opinion on smart devices. In February, Swatch announced that it was developing a smartwatch and, separately, adding fitness-tracking features for volleyball players to an upcoming version of the Touch, a digital watch that uses a touchscreen instead of buttons to control functions. The watch, the Touch Zero One, will have a touchscreen and monitor steps taken, calories burned and volleyball maneuvers. This data will be sent to an accompanying smartphone app that rates a person's volleyball skills. The Touch Zero One will go on sale in August, Hayek said Thursday, according to Reuters.

Swatch faces a formidable competitor in Apple, which has had strong sales of its first smartwatch since it became available in April. Google is also looking to claim a piece of the wearables market with its Android Wear software and may announce plans for the platform during its developers conference on Thursday.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
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