Swiss Manufacturer Creates High-End Mechanical Apple Watch Clone

Ahead of the Apple Watch’s launch, many high-end Swiss watch makers were critical of its design and Apple’s efforts to position it as a high-fashion item. TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver went as far as to call it „too feminine,“ saying the Apple Watch looked like „it was designed by a student in their first trimester.“

As time has passed, opinions on the Apple Watch have changed. It has prompted some high-end luxury watch makers to consider delving into the smart watch market themselves, and it also seems to be the inspiration behind high-end watchmaker H. Moser & Cie.’s latest product.

Shared today by watch site Hodinkee, H. Moser & Cie.’s Swiss Alp Watch has a design that’s immediately familiar, featuring a rectangular watch face with curved, rounded edges, a crown at the side, and Apple Watch-style lugs for holding a band in place.

Constructed from solid 18-karat white gold, the Swiss Alp Watch measures in at 38.2mm by 44mm, with a depth of 10.3mm. That’s comparable to the 42mm Apple Watch, which is 35.9mm by 42mm with a depth of 10.5mm. It comes with a beige kudu leather strap with a white gold pin buckle.

The resemblance between the Swiss Alp Watch and the Apple Watch is purely physical. There is no processor, no OLED display, and no sensors in the Swiss Alp Watch, which is entirely mechanical. When flipped over, there’s no heart rate sensor – instead, the inner mechanics of the watch (a finished tonneau movement with a Straumann hairspring, according to Hodinkee) are visible through a clear sapphire crystal panel.

H. Moser & Cie. does not mention the Apple Watch on its website or in its marketing materials, but when speaking to Hodinkee, H. Moser & Cie. CEO Edouard Meylan said the Swiss Alp Watch is symbolic, serving as a proof traditional mechanical watchmaking has a future in a world where the digital smart watch is becoming commonplace. Swiss watchmaking, he says, has weathered other challenges and it will continue on.

„Today, H. Moser & Cie. launches the Swiss Alp Watch as a statement of this new challenge and to prove that traditional mechanical watchmaking has a future, and it is, in fact, the future. It is much more than a watch for us. The Swiss Alp Watch is symbolic. It represents our resilience, our ferocious desire to fight for our values and traditions. It embodies everything we believe in.“

Given that H. Moser & Cie. is pricing the white gold Swiss Alp Watch at $24,900 with only 50 pieces available, it’s unlikely Apple will take offense over the copycat design.

The full story of the H. Moser & Cie. Swiss Alp Watch, which includes background color on the Swiss watch industry and hands-on details, can be read over at Hodkinee.
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Job Listing Lends Further Credence to Apple’s Acquisition of Faceshift

Earlier this month, we reported that Apple likely acquired Swiss real-time motion capture firm Faceshift, based on the company’s corporate directors stepping down in August and being replaced by Martin Frey, a mergers and acquisitions attorney at Baker & McKenzie. Apple has frequently used Baker & McKenzie’s services around the world, including management of some of Apple’s Swiss trademarks.

Lending further credence to the rumor, Apple has posted a job listing for a PhD-level Software Engineering position within its Camera and Media Algorithms Group. The listing provides a generic location of Apple’s Swiss corporate headquarters at Löwenstrasse 29 in Zurich, Switzerland, but the highly technical skills and experience required for the job suggest it may be located at nearby Faceshift.

This engineer will work to create cutting-edge imaging algorithms for both mobile and desktop photographic applications. The ideal candidate will have experience with advanced imaging techniques such as multi-scale, wavelet, or gradient-domain processing. In addition, experience with processing video for computational information is desired including experience with image registration methods. Also, experience working with multi-spectral imaging systems is desired. 5+ years algorithmic development for general image processing, computational photography, color and image quality. Strong understanding of digital imaging/camera pipelines. Strong computational and imaging for information experience. Excellent coding skills in C, C++, and MATLAB Ability to optimize/debug imaging algorithms. Familiarity with common development and debugging tools, ideally for both mobile and desktop applications. Strong verbal and written communication skills in English. Ability to manage multiple tasks and self-prioritize. PhD in image processing or computational photography field required.

Faceshift launched in 2011 out of the Computer Graphics and Geometry Laboratory at EPFL in Lausanne, also known as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and a source working in a similar field told MacRumors that Apple may be working with Switzerland’s other technical university ETH Zurich on image segmentation and characterization at a secretive location in Zurich.

Nevertheless, the acquisition still cannot be proved beyond circumstantial evidence.

Faceshift has largely shut down its website that formerly advertised its upcoming consumer effort and a partnership for integration with Intel’s RealSense 3D camera systems
Faceshift has removed nearly all mentions of its previous Faceshift Studio software from its website and has gone silent on Twitter and Facebook
Multiple employees at Faceshift have updated their LinkedIn profiles with „Currently Looking For New Opportunities“ or „Considering New Opportunities“

Faceshift has demoed its motion capture technology several times in the past few years, including at GDC 2015.

There are numerous ways in which Apple could use Faceshift’s technologies, should this acquisition rumor prove true, ranging from real-time avatars for FaceTime video chats to biometrics for unlocking devices or authorizing payments via facial recognition. Apple’s past acquisition of 3D body sensing firm PrimeSense and Swedish facial recognition firm Polar Rose make it clear the company is interested in the space.



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