This time last year, a new Sony watch appeared on Japanese crowdfunding website Makuake, the FES Watch. The FES Watch is designed as a new digital fashion watch – not a smartwatch – using eInk for the display and being highly customizable, both the eInk screen and the strap. After being introduced on the Mukuake website, Sony expanded the crowdfunding process to include their own portal, First Flight. Now, the FES Watch is going on sale but only in a two locations at this time, making the FES Watch something of an exclusive product. it will be going on sale at the MoMA Design Store on Omotesando at the end of this week (Saturday, 21 November) although customers can reserve their watch from today. Later on, on the 1 December, the Isetan boutique department store in Shinjuku will sell the watch. Isetan is notable as being the same store that Apple used for the Apple Watch. The FES Watch will cost 29,700 Japanese Yen, a shade under $250; although this is not a smartwatch, it is priced very much as an expensive digital accessory. However, this is the watch that received the Good Design Award for in 2015.
Sony’s positioning of the FES Watch in two fashion stores is interesting but is not the first time a major electronics brand has partnered with the fashion industry. Indeed, Intel are masters of the craft, having worked with a number of big name designers so as to incorporate their technology with the designers’ skills at building a desirable wearable product. For the time being, Tokyo’s electronics resellers are not able to sell the FES Watch, but Sony has said that this will change as the business plans to roll out the device to other retailers. Unfortunately, Sony did not disclose a time horizon for the roll out to other stores and we are not aware of any plans to export the watch around the world.
It remains to be seen how well the FES Watch will work. Combining eInk with a watch is a logical step for providing customers with an interesting and desirable timepiece that is sure to catch admiring glances and start conversations. Although the current FES Watch does not have any smart features, it is possible that if this is a commercial success, Sony may introduce a version that includes smart functions such as notifications or voice control.