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Frédérique Constant/Alpina - Aletta Stas on smart watches for women

Frédérique Constant/Alpina Aletta Stas on smart watches for women

At Baselworld we met Aletta Stas, who co-founded the Frédérique Constant group with her husband. We talked about smart watches, from a woman’s point of view.

At Baselworld this year, the two brands managed by Peter and Aletta Stas, Alpina and Frédérique Constant, unveiled two ranges of Horological Smartwatches designed specifically for women. With a sporty 36 mm glass fibre case, the new Alpina Comtesse Horological Smartwatch comes in three versions – one black and rose gold, and two white, with a choice of sky-blue or white mother-of-pearl dial with pink gold accents – and a number of elegant details. Frédérique Constant’s more classically styled ladies’ Horological Smartwatch also comes in three versions, in a 34 mm steel case with a silver or black guilloché dial, or in rose gold-plated steel with a silver guilloché dial.

Aletta Stas on connected watches for women

In Aletta Stas’s view, functions are not the main priority for women when it comes to choosing a smartwatch. Design is their main concern. “We did some research on smartwatches, and asked women about their criteria for buying a watch,” she explains. “Design was still the most important factor. Is the watch nice to look at? In general, women are less interested in technical aspects. They look first of all at the aesthetics of the watch, its colour, whether it has diamonds or mother-of-pearl. The functions come second to that, with a Swiss Made label third. For the very competitive price of CHF 695, women can have a Frédérique Constant women’s Horological Smartwatch, an attractive steel-cased watch with a mother-of-pearl dial, which is also Swiss Made.”

Aletta Stas on connected watches for women

So why don’t Aletta Stas and her husband go 100% connected, like TAG Heuer and Montblanc have done? Aletta Stas’s answer is unequivocal: “We were the first to enter the market with connected horological watches, but we don’t want to venture any further into high-tech; we would be in competition with 100% smartwatches and, importantly, we would no longer be Swiss Made. We have no desire to make computers that you wear on your wrist. We’re not targeting geeks. We make beautiful Swiss quartz watches, with smart functions, that run on a battery and don’t need charging. Particularly where women are concerned, when you have a mobile phone, sometimes a work phone too, and a tablet, if you then have a watch to charge, it’s likely to be left in the drawer after a couple of days. I think this applies to most women customers, although there are exceptions, of course. We see it with manually-wound mechanical watches too: women are less keen.”

The new connected watches by Alpina and Frédérique Constant include a module designed by MMT Swiss Connect, a Swiss company based in Plan-les-Ouates. The company is still majority-owned by the Stas family, who held onto their shares after they sold Frédérique Constant to Citizen last year. “The Japanese are less convinced by connected watches,” notes Aletta Stas. “They are very conservative. But we don’t share their opinion.” The module governs the usual smartwatch functions: email and call notifications, activity tracker, sleep tracker, universal watch, etc.

But which functions appeal most to women? “A smartwatch is more than a fashion accessory, because it offers some genuinely useful functions,” notes Aletta Stas. “Tracking functions [step counter, kilometre and calorie counters] are important to women, because they want to stay fit. Of course, there are connected straps for that, but here you have an elegant watch that you can wear on your wrist, and you don’t need your phone with you to track your step count. You can also set up the watch to vibrate after a period of inactivity, just as it does when it receives emails or calls from selected contacts. Sleep tracking can also be consulted directly on the watch, and the alarm can be set to vibrate during a light sleep phase.”

Finally, Aletta Stas points out, the worldtime function is very useful. “You set your home location, Geneva for example, on the app. When you are abroad, you simply press the crown, and the hands move to show the time in Geneva. After 3 seconds, they revert to local time.”

Aletta Stas on connected watches for women

Finally, Frédérique Constant’s co-founder notes that connected quartz watches are becoming an increasingly important part of the company’s collections. “In the last two years we have sold around 40,000 Horological Smartwatches, representing around 10% of total sales. We don’t want to tip the focus of our company any further towards the smartwatch segment but, overall, our quartz watch segment will grow, and all of our quartz watches could be connected. In a few years, a very large proportion of our quartz watches, which today represent around 35% of our production, will almost certainly be connected. But obviously, we will not abandon mechanical watches, or increase our production capacity. It’s simply a shift from standard quartz to connected quartz, and I really believe we will see more and more of this.”

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