Google has recently been awarded a patent on a quick-change watch band design with a few variants, the moral of the story being that its designs, which will probably show up on the long-rumored Pixel Watch, all allow the user to switch out watch bands in just seconds, and with no tools or extra hassle. Both proposed designs are implementable on just about any watch band design, and entail opening up the clasp holding the band in place to switch it out with another. When the new watch band is in place, the mechanism closes up.
There are four variants in all, with two different watch-side configurations and two different band-side configurations that can be used in any combination. On the band side, there’s a push-button configuration, and a slide-button configuration. Both do the same thing in the end; they push a metal bit out inside the band that engages the locking mechanism in the watch.
On the watch side, meanwhile, there’s a design that holds together with an array of magnets that get pushed apart by the band’s button mechanism, and another that uses side-loading lugs like an old-school watch band, and has the middle bit pushed apart by the band’s mechanism, dislodging the lugs. In all combinations, inserting a new band and clicking it into place will cause the mechanism to clamp securely around the band.
What all of these designs and their various combinations have in common is that the button is placed to where it won’t engage while the watch is being worn, and once the band is in place, you’d have to either engage the mechanism or pull hard enough on it to break it in order to get it off. Essentially, this means that Google has patented four different ways to facilitate quick band changes without compromising on robustness.
This all feeds into the legacy of the elusive Pixel Watch, a device that’s made the rounds in the rumor mill for ages now. All kinds of things have been said about the concept, which is supposed to be Google’s bid to evangelize its own vision of what a base, no-frills Wear OS device looks like, just as its Pixel lineup has done for smartphones and Chromebooks. The bottom line for now, of course, is that Google has simply kept tight-lipped about it, and likely will for a while. With Google I/O coming up in May, though, there is hope for Pixel Watch holdouts.
It should be said that Wear OS has its own set of problems that won’t be solved by fancy hardware or quicker updates. Many fans hope that the Pixel Watch will be Google’s way of putting serious skin in the Wear OS game, and bringing UI and feature improvements that are long overdue. Others think that the Pixel Watch will be a feature-packed pinnacle of Wear OS, with enough hardware and software boxes ticked to rival the Apple Watch. Whatever the case will end up being, the only thing that’s certain for now is that Google is priming to make a Pixel Watch. Whether that happens, and when, is still up in the air.