Sony is launching a new range of smart wrist wearables under the Wena brand, designed to combine traditional watch faces with smart features in an unusual hybrid design. Unlike other hybrid watches that mix smart features with mechanical components within the case, Sony's Wena wearables comprise primarily of two smart straps that can effectively turn any traditional watch into a smart timepiece. However, the lineup includes three dedicated Wena watch faces which can be purchased separately and combined with either of the two smart straps, resulting in different pricing, overall design, and smart capabilities.
Sony Wena stands for "Wear Electronics Naturally" and the product is the result of the company's Seed Acceleration Program which encourages Sony employees to come up with new and creative ideas for fresh products outside of Sony's usual area of operation. This is the same program that led to the creation of the fashionable E-Paper FES Watch U which was launched in Europe last September.
In the new lineup, first there's the Wena Wrist Pro strap made of metal, which can be acquired in both silver and black, and with 18, 20, and 22mm lug attachment options. It offers water resistance and is equipped with a small display for call and app notifications, as well as a 7-color LED.
Then there's the Wena Wrist Active made of silicone, whose moniker confirms that it's been primarily designed for a more active lifestyle. The 20mm band comes with 18, 20, and 22mm lugs and a quick release system, a small display of its own, and despite the lower price tag the silicone strap also includes GPS tracking and a heart rate sensor integrated with the Google Fit and Apple Health applications. The Wrist Pro lacks GPS tracking and fitness-oriented features but both benefit from NFC connectivity for contactless payments, particularly through Wirecard and KGC Bank in the UK and Ireland.
The Wena Wrist Pro and Wrist Active smart straps can virtually convert any traditional watch into a smart wearable, as long as it matches the lugs configuration, but Sony is also launching three watch face models to go along with the two straps. This includes the Wena Mechanical with a see-through back and sapphire glass, the water-resistant Wena Solar promising up to 6 months of operation time on a full charge, and the Wena Quartz which like the Solar, can be acquired with either a chronograph or three hands.
The Sony Wena lineup is available for pre-order in the UK starting today, but as interesting as this particular hybrid concept is, the design may have not helped much in terms of pricing. At the very least, Sony's new wearables don't seem to compete in the same category as standard smartwatches or hybrid timepieces. The Wena Wrist Pro metal strap costs £399 ($514) while the silicone Wrist Active has a price tag of £349 ($450). Prices for the watch faces range from £100 ($129) for the Wena Quartz model, up to £450 ($580) for the Wena Mechanical. This means that the cheapest combination between the Wena Quartz 3 Hands and the Wrist Active costs a total of £449 ($579) while mixing the more expensive Sony Wena Wrist Pro strap with the Wena Mechanical watch face can go for as high as £849 ($1,095).