HP and Michael Bastian enter wearables discreetly with a stylish, semi-smart watch


HP and Michael Bastian are betting that style trumps substance for their first smartwatch collaboration.

The MB Chronowing is a 44mm stainless steel watch for men. It has a monochrome LCD display, but with a metallic ring in one corner that encircles a small clock face. The rest of the screen is dedicated to tidbits of information from a paired iPhone or Android phone, while indicators for battery and connectivity sit just outside the right edge of the screen.

The side of the watch has three buttons for navigating the Chronowing's menus and information channels. There are 10 channels to cycle through, including sport scores, stocks, upcoming appointments, text messages and e-mails. The watch can control a phone's music playback as well. In other words, it's sort of like a Pebble Steel, but without third-party apps, customizable watch faces or fitness tracking. It'll last for seven days on a charge.

As for looks, the Chronowing looks fairly traditional, with a round face studded by metallic screws. Buyers will have a choice of brown leather, olive nylon or black rubber watch straps.

The MB Chronowing will go on sale November 7 through Gilt, and is priced at $350. A darker “limited edition” model will also be available with PVD plating, sapphire crystal and a black leather strap, but there's no word on pricing for that one.

Why this matters: It's another acknowledgment that smartwatches need to look good just as much as they need to be functional. Still, this has the air of being a one-off experiment by HP and Michael Bastian, rather than an earnest push into wearables by either company. For this price, most users should just wait for the Apple Watch next year, though the Pebble Steel makes a fine gateway smartwatch in the meantime.

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