If you've been looking at the current crop of smartwatches and said, "meh, not fancy enough for me", we recommend you take a look at the Kairos smartwatch. The watch aims to combine a traditional mechanical automatic movement watch with a custom smartwatch overlay that's compatible with Android and iOS. What makes the watch interesting (at least in its current render form) is that the display is a transparent OLED layer over the hands and exposed movements of the watch. But the Kairos does not look to come cheap, especially for something that we've only see in renders.

First previewed a week ago, the Kairos has a much more traditional appearance to it than most smartwatches. We'll reserve judgement on the aesthetics, though we know the look isn't for everybody. Inside that stainless steel body will be a Bluetooth 4.0 LE radio, 3-axis accelerometer, vibration motor, and a 180mAh battery that Kairos claims to be good for 5-7 days life (which is a pretty ambitious claim).

The transparent OLED display is under a sheet of sapphire crystal and includes a touch sensitive layer for basic interactions. When not in use, the display goes blank, exposing the hands and movement below.

Kairos smartwatch render

Speaking of that movement, customers will have the choice between a 21-jewel Miyota 8257 Japanese automatic movement with or a 25-jewel Soprod A10BV-2 Swiss automatic movement. Both offer a 42-hour reserve for the watch portion of the smart watch.

So how much will a Kairos watch set you back? They start at $1199 with an estimated delivery of December 2014, though if you preorder now you can get it for $499 instead. That's for a Kairos in stainless steel with a leather band and the Miyota movement. If you want one in gold with the Swiss Soprod movement, you'll be looking at a list price of $2149 (or $1199 if you preorder). Preorders for all models of the Kairos watch are open through the end of June, so if you want one, we suggest placing your order now before the prices mode than double.

Source: Kairos

 

Reader comments

The Kairos hybrid mechanical smartwatch with a transparent screen is up for preorder

62 Comments

Wow! That's a really inexpensive watch!!! What is the height on that thing, about 3 inches? I like the concept but 1,200 or 2,149 bucks!?!? Or 1,199 or 499 for something that may never see the light of day? Sure Mr. Kairos! Sign me up for 12 of those puppies!

$499 is very, very reasonable for a nice wrist watch. The fact that it's $499 and a smart watch is awesome. Just tried to pre-order but it didn't work...

thats how it is though, i dont own a watch past $250 just because I can't justify buying it, but average for a nice watch can be anywhere from 200-800, so theyre in at a decent price for a quality product.

the problem I have is that any cheap(er) watches that I own, have quit working... one was around $200, one was around $300, and the last was one that I got from my job as a 10 year gift. however my wife got me a Movado as an engagement watch (yeah I kinda of made that one up, told her it wasn't fair that guys had to spend a lot of money on a ring just to ask for marriage, so I said its only fair I receive either an engagement watch or handgun... boy was I surprised that worked) that has been problem free for almost a decade. and I inherited my grandfather's Breitling that cost god knows how much and is going on its 4th decade.

buy once, cry once.

That being said, I couldn't see spending that kind of money on a tech watch... sure a quality timepiece can last a lifetime, I really have a hard time believing any of these would still be in use in less than a decade.

Daamnn !!! Man I swear I am gonna use your thing one day!! Hell yeah she is gonna have to buy me an expensive accessory too!! lol. But hey, a watch a $300 in not cheap for me though :/

My watch was £15 and still works 7 years after I bought it.

I wouldn't pay loads for a watch unless it was *really* special. Maybe £50 Max for a standard watch.

Smart watches I've yet to see one that impressed me but my Max would be what my phone cost - £250 - a company would have an uphill struggle persuading me that a watch costs more than a phone.

I agree; none of my Tissot watches have had any issues, other than needing a new battery, and I wear them almost daily. I haven't had issue with the high end GShocks, but have had a low-end model stop working before. Not sure how the electronics will hold up on these watches, but the movement should be solid. At least with these you can upgrade the electronics starting at $99...not bad for a quality watch you will keep for a while.

Lol. To just see the time we don't need to spend $800. Else, i just look at it on my phone! Lol.

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Reasonable for a watch that will last you a lifetime, or at least a decade.

I'm concerned that Smartwatches are going to have short shelflives with how fast mobile technology advances.

this. i would spend a couple hundred on a watch i knew was going to look gorgeous and last a very long time but with it looking like it's going to run a propriety OS, compatibility is a major concern. at least it's still a beautiful watch, with or without the smartwatch features. that black one looks amazing.

I'm not worried about mobile technology making it obsolete, it'll happen its just a fact of using mobile technology. However the screen is going to give after a few good tumbles while playing sports or absently smacking your arm into a wall or a post. If you manage to be forever diligent and not touch the screen to anything you still have to worry about the battery not working after two years.

Smartwatches should between $50 - $75. To price it as a separate phone when you need a phone to use the damn thing is ridiculous.

That's the coolest smartwatch I've seen yet, besides the Neptune Pine

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Hmmm. I have not worn a watch in a dozen years, and none of the current smartwatches interest me. But I would actually consider this one.

This. Thing. Is. STUNNING!
I have one concern, though. Most mechanical watch owners know that the watch should be or may need service once every few years (how often is debatable). Which store or shop will service this watch? Is the mechanical portion easily separated from all of the electronics? I wouldn't want to spend the money only to have an unfixable watch, should the movement fail.

Very good point. That could easily be a deal breaker. How many watchmakers would know how/be willing to service these things? My watch just needed service. I've had it for 6 years and had no idea that it ever needed to be serviced. I was ready to buy a new one when my co-worker tipped me off that it probably needed service.

"Please note, the photos and video are intended for visualization purposes only. Actual production model may vary in size and design details. The transparent display is 40% to 60% transparent depending on the type of display you choose (TOLED Dot Matrix vs. TOLED ICON). In contrast, the video shows a 100% transparent state during off mode. This was done to show the design of the watch."

So the video and the pictures on the website are fake. Are there real ones anywhere? That's a lot of money to front without seeing what you're actually getting.

Wow thanks... so the vid is totally missleading.. they should have put a vidbshowing the concept idea and the vid showing the real life scenario. Now the vid is showing something that is not true at all.

Iwas going to find to see more details, size etc. and maybe placing my order for the 499 (not into gold or its color either) Thanks but no thanks...

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Yeah. 60% opaque would be pretty dark but still okay, but if you look at the prototype pictures on the website, it's not just black opaque, it's an ugly sepia color that'll be impossible to see through. I'm hoping I'm wrong and those are just really bad preview images... but there's no way I'm pre-ordering anything until I know for sure.

The height on that thing is the asthetic part for me that's a turn-off. However, unless the watches are promoting wireless charging, then there is no desire for me to want to plug in something like a watch. I'd rather just keep using a standard watch. But when size constraints are gone and charging is simplistic, then I'll be ready to purchase one of these wearables. So....keep inventing and improving I say!

Well not only is this one of the most beautiful concept watches I've ever seen, the company says they will upgrade your electrical (and mechanical) components for a fee whenever new/better technology becomes available. It would be incredibly cool to have a smartwatch you could just send in every 2 years and pay $99 to upgrade to the latest and greatest.

Anyone who's played a casino slot machine in the last few years has seen this sort of transparent overlay. I'm excited to see it entering the consumer sector.

Looks pretty amazing except for the thickness. Over half an inch thick sitting on your wrist seems a little awkward.

I was going to say the same thing.
I have quite a few watches but nothing even close to 16.5 mm.
This thing is massive and I wouldn't wear it.

From what I've seen around , thick design is extremely popular in the last 5 years. Idk why, but that "scuba" looks really took over.

VZW Moto X

I just want to know, why the HECK is it so hard to find a watch that has numbers on it!? I mean seriously, I don't wear a watch as a piece of jewelry to show off how hip I am, I use a watch as a tool, a device to actually show me what time it is! It is almost impossible to find a good swiss automatic watch with all 12 numbers on it that doesn't cost an absolute fortune! I purchased an inexpensive swiss auto from Migros (the Swiss version of Walmart) 16 years ago, and wore it every day, without realizing it needed to be serviced periodically. It's now dead and no one will fix it, but it had all numbers, date and even the day in both French and German!

Who manufactured your watch? Can you get in contact with them to get a quote on how much a repair/replacement would cost and would they have some sort of authorized agent near you to do the repair? 16 years is a pretty good run for an automatic/manual watch. Guess it depends on the cost to fix it doesn't it?

Well, just to open, diagnose and clean, Rado asked me for 270$. I assume that repairs on something like that are not worth the money.

VZW Moto X

I suppose it depends on how much a new Rado or equivalent would cost and if the work is guaranteed. Your call.

I don't mean to be rude, but do you really have trouble working it out without the numbers? As long as there is a some marker for each hour, I'm good. Though preferably markers for each minute as well.

I guess most people who buy watches can work out from the position of the hands without the hours being labelled, and thus weather they are actually labelled is a style thing, and I guess the current fashion is not to do it for every hour.

If you don't consider your watch in some way a piece of jewelry that also tells the time then why don't you just buy a cheap digital watch? Surely that's what other people that care more about function than fashion do.

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Buy a G-Shock; it displays the time, date, tide etc. depending on which model you choose. many expensive watches don't have numbers or you can a model with or without...except in this case, so maybe the Motorola or LG watch would be a better choice for you.

Not actual pictures or video = No buy. Their so called actual pictures are pesky looking, they don't even mention if they do international shippings, sounds like a scam to me and it's too bad because I'm interested.

Yeah I just saw the Pre-order policy on their website.
No refunds (unless damaged) and customers "should be willing to sacrifice on small design changes...".
So, basically if you happen not like it, you are stuck w it.
VZW Moto X

That would likely be illegal in most countries. Certainly would be here where consumers have the right to reject goods that aren't what they ordered.

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...and this is why I'm out of the smart watch game for the foreseeable future. A wrist watch is a fashion accessory and anything over 40-42mm is way too big, let alone the 46mm that these puppies clock in at. I prefer 36-38mm frankly. The movements aren't anything spectacular, but for the price are decent. Bear in mind that the Miyota won't be as smooth as the Soprod on account of the slower beat rate.

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Would have to disagree with you on the size. I am a watch collector (approximately 55) and in my opinion and the opinion of many other watch collectors, the size (46mm) is almost a starndard size now for watches. Most companies to include Breitling (expensive brand) are making 46 or larger watches. i personally never wear a watch under 40mm and rarely wear one under 46-48. When I see a watch that is 40mm or under, I think it looks like a kids watch. In regards to the height of the watch, I have many including the one that I have on today that are an average 3/4 - 1" in depth. No matter where I am I get comments about my watches. And in regards to the movement, most swiss autos will be better than japanese ones. But, Miyota makes some outstanding autos.

Again just my opinion and yes I would buy this if I find out they are legit.

I haven't worn a watch in at least 25 years, although I do carry an electronic timepiece in my pocket (it's called my mobile phone).

Crickey, have NONE of you commenters even heard of the Moto 360? It's real, and a tad more practical. And been all over the Internet and on the Motorola home page. Dear me!

There is no comparison between this and the Moto 360. The Moto 360 is a "digital watch." This is an actual watch with an automatic movement (never needs to be wound. Your wrist movement winds the watch) with an oled display between the crystal (sapphire - highly scratch/break resistant) and the movement. I like the 360 but this in my opinion is an even better concept. I collect watches and if the actual production watch looked like the one in the video, I would probably buy it just as a watch. You add the oled display, and if it does turn out to be real, I will probably look at getting one.

As a side, I would be curious to see if the power to run the oled screen comes from the automatic movement. Never mind, I just saw on their webpage that the oled is powered by a battery which makes sense.

Geez, that thing must be half an inch thick. It'll be like wearing a brick on your wrist. No way you could get a shirt sleeve over one.

Maybe this was only the idea to show and sell the concept for Apple and get big money from them =) so lets wait to see headlines "Apple bought the company and the patents..."

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So tempted to pre-order that 158C...that's a long time to wait for a watch and I'm wondering which Android OS it will be compatible with when it finally rolls out.

If it wasn't for the fact that this watch is twice as thick as it should have been, this is actually a really great idea for a smart watch. Having a real mechanical watch in it that will keep going even when the "smart" part dies is a must. And it also makes it look a lot more stylish. Had it been an acceptable thickness, I wouldn't have complained about the price tag.