Sequent Exclusive: first look at the Sequent SuperCharger 2
Smartwatches are like cars: often, what prevents people from buying them is their autonomy. In the car industry, Tesla can already power its supercars for a range of 600 km. In the watch industry, watchmakers were capable of creating a mechanical “perpetual motion” machine back in the 19th century. But when smartwatches appeared on the scene it was back to square one. The processors and, above all, the screens, suddenly required so much power they could rarely go for more than 24 hours.
Frédérique Constant changed the paradigm by getting rid of the screen and outsourcing most of the calculations to the smartphone: the watch counts, but the phone calculates. And given that it’s the calculations and screens that consume the most energy, a simple battery was enough to power the watch for several years.
Unlimited autonomy – no batteries, no charging
Today, the start-up Sequent takes this a step further. It has replaced the battery with an automatic winding mechanism. In theory, this gives the Sequent an unlimited power reserve. In practice, fully wound, the SC2 can last for two years without breaking a sweat. To deal with periods of intense cold that could potentially affect the battery, the watch comes with a small mains adaptor, although in practice it’s unlikely ever to come out of its box.
This hybrid mechanism combines the best of both worlds: electronic (shared between watch and phone) and mechanical. It’s not a new approach. Seiko paved the way with the Spring Drive back in 1999 – quartz regulator, automatic winding. But this is the first time that hybrid technology has been used for a smartwatch: connected watch, automatic winding.
Sequent is focusing on its automatic winding capabilities – the watch is called the “SuperCharger” after all. And they’re already onto the second version of the design, the SuperCharger 2 (SC2 to the cognoscenti). WorldTempus was given the opportunity to try out the first prototype of this new model.
Supercharger2 © Sequent
More stripped-down, less expensive
The most obvious change is an aesthetic one. The SC1 had two counters on the dial: power reserve and progress towards the daily steps goal. The SC2 has just one, which can switch between the two functions with a press on the crown. The daily steps are displayed by default, which is a good idea. If you wear the watch every day, it stays more or less permanently at 100% charge, so the display is largely unnecessary.
Another major change is the price. An SC1 would set you back around 700 dollars. The SC2 will be available for around a third of that, approx. 300 dollars depending on the options. To bring the price down this low, the SC2 has dispensed with integral GPS and sapphire crystal (except on the Premium version).
The loss of the heart rate monitor might be disappointing for some, but the SC2 is targeting a broader audience. Sporty types might still prefer the SC1 or, if they’re really serious, they will probably stick with Garmin or one of the other specialists in the field. This is not the target demographic of the SC2, which has a water resistance of only 50 metres.
There is no on-board GPS, although GPS functions are still available via a smartphone.
Finally, the lack of a sapphire crystal is a matter of personal preference. The watch comes with a mineral glass but, in any case, it’s not aiming for a Geneva Hallmark. The prototype was equipped with an oscillating weight, but the final version will come with a completely silent peripheral rotor.
Supercharger2 © WorldTempus / Olivier Müller
Well conceived and well thought-out
In daily wear, the SC2 performs admirably. The watch looks good, it’s perfectly proportioned (41.5 mm in diameter with a thickness of 12 mm); it’s light on the wrist, modern and understated enough to be worn on any occasion. The strap deserves particular mention. First for its aesthetics: it’s functional and unique, with a wide range of colour choices. And second for its clasp: it fastens with a double press of a button, which is so simple and effective, it’s a wonder no one has thought of it before. Finally, it has impeccable environmental credentials: the plastic from which it is made was collected from the ocean.
Supercharger2, 2 Sport models © Sequent
A user-friendly app
The SC2’s custom app is simple and to the point: number of steps and distance, and number of calories expended. The user can also choose a standard profile with a pre-defined goal from 10,000 to 25,000 steps per day. The app, developed by a British firm, is simple and intuitive, and may eventually incorporate cryptocurrency functions.
Sequent raised 1.2 million dollars on KickStarter for the SC1 and its automatic smartwatch concept. We fully expect this success to be repeated, because the technology works faultlessly. The SC2 has an exemplary finish, a carefully considered design and an extremely democratic price tag. It ticks all the boxes. Expect to see the first deliveries in early 2020.