The Swatch smartwatch is more disappointing than anyone could have imagined

After months of slinging insults at Apple, Swatch’s big invention is a dumbwatch with an NFC chip.

It turns out that Swatch doesn’t have much to talk about after all.

The company’s CEO, Nick Hayek, has spent months building the hype for a supposed Swatch smartwatch, while bashing the Apple Watch as “an interesting toy, but not a revolution.” But now that we have some details about Swatch’s response, it’s clear the company doesn’t have anything remotely competitive.

According to Bloomberg, the Swatch Bellamy is a basic timepiece that will debut in China next year for 580 yuan, or about $91, before making its way to Switzerland and the United States. Its sole technological element will be a near-field communication chip that lets users make payments with the watch instead of a credit card. Hayek had previously touted the watch’s 9-month battery life, which doesn’t seem like a major feat given the apparent lack of a display and processor. (Chinese site Sina.com also obtained an image of the not-so-smartwatch.)

The inclusion of NFC payments might have been interesting if it wasn’t becoming a standard feature in other wearables, including the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S2, and Jawbone UP4. As Engadget notes, banks are even starting to offer NFC stickers, so you can add payments to whatever watch you want.

This isn’t the first time Swatch has talked up its smartwatch plans, only to have them fizzle out. In February, Hayek said Swatch would have an answer to the Apple Watch within the next three months, but that never happened. The company did, however, release a fitness-tracking watch for beach volleyball enthusiasts.

Why this matters: The mismatch between Swatch’s hype and reality only underscores the desperation Swiss watchmakers are facing as Apple—and to some extent other tech firms—are upending the traditional watch business. Hopefully TAG Heuer’s upcoming collaboration with Google and Intel will fare better. In the meantime, we’ve learned our lesson to stop taking Hayek’s comments seriously.

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Jared Newman

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