Recently, Japanese watch brand, Citizen, signed an exclusive agreement licensing hybrid Smartwatch Technology from the Fossil Group, which specializes in watches and wearables. The multi-year agreement will enable Citizen to produce and sell hybrid smart watches that combine both watch and smart technology. I covered this topic recently in my Perfect Timing column on Forbes.com, and now I revisit it for our readers.
“The agreement between Fossil Group and Citizen will not only enable Citizen to create and sell its own hybrid smartwatches, but also to build and sell Smartwatch movements to the watch industry at large. Hybrid smart watches are those that are classic watches that can also offer notifications and tracking capabilities without needing to be charged. The movement inside does that work for the watch.
The field of smartwatches is not new to Citizen, as the brand has had Bluetooth-enabled watches since 2006 and even introduced a Bluetooth-enabled solar powered watch (Eco-Drive) in 2012. Similarly, Fossil Group has been creating smart watches under several of its brands, including Michael Kors, Emporio Armani, Kate Spade and Marc Jacobs, among others. Under its Michele brand, it also offers a new hybrid Smartwatch.
The agreement between Fossil Group and Citizen may have some experts wondering why Citizen didn’t team with MMT – the developer of software and hardware modules for hybrid watches. Peter and Aletta Stas are the majority shareholders in MMT and were the previous owners of Frederique Constant, Alpina and Atelier deMonaco, which they sold to Citizen just a couple of years ago. MMT also sells its modules and technology to other watch brands. Additionally both Frederique Constant and Alpina have hybrid luxury smart watches using MMT technology. The new Citizen/Fossil Group agreement does not affect the current Frederique Constant, Alpina/MMT arrangement for the luxury hybrid watches. According to Peter Stas, the Frederique Constant Group and MMT will continue to collaborate on High-End Smartwatches, like Color-Touch Screen ANADIGIT versions with Health Sensor, a Solar Smartwatch and the Swiss Connect Cloud.”