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Wearables become high fashion

woman paying for her coffee with a smartwatch

In the early days of the technology, wearables were mundane - a triumph of function over flair. We wore them to count our steps, not to make us look chic. Things have changed. Modern wearable consumer electronics devices increasingly combine convenience and purpose with more than a touch of classic style in order to grab a slice of a lucrative and growing market. 

The global appeal of wearable devices 

The wearable technology sector continues to boom. According to analyst Statista, shipments of hearables, smartwatches, smart rings, wristbands, and other wearables are forecast to reach around 560 million units in 2024[1]. That's up from the 336 million units that shipped five years earlier[2], an increase of more than 65 percent.  

For now, this market is largely dominated by the established smartwatch ranges of major brands like Apple, Garmin, Google Fitbit, and Samsung. These manufacturers attempt to differentiate their products by offering increasing battery life, improving usability, and added features geared towards health and fitness. 

Adding form to function  

But the next wave of wearable tech is set to impact the lucrative world of fashion. Clever designers and developers are meeting new consumer demand by prioritizing form alongside function. By merging advanced technology with a traditional timepiece, a wearable no longer needs to look like a wearable. 

One company pioneering this approach is French consumer electronics company, Withings. The firm recently launched its ScanWatch Nova, an advanced, hybrid smartwatch designed to provide wearers with accurate, around-the-clock health metrics while offering an elegant ‘diver style’ stainless steel design.  

The compact smartwatch integrates temperature, accelerometer, altimeter, and multi-wavelength photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors—all supervised by Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52840 multiprotocol Bluetooth LE SoC—to generate a wide range of health data including temperature tracking, on-demand electrocardiogram (ECG), and menstrual cycle tracking.

Smartwatches aim for share of prestige market  

Global prestige watch brand, Festina, has also launched the latest in its connected watch range in a stylish, modern design. The nRF52840 SoC-powered Festina Connected D is simultaneously both a traditional watch and an activity tracker. The stainless steel timepiece features an authentic physical dial plate and watch hands with a cut-out for the OLED display. 

Meanwhile Dayton Industrial’s Nordic nRF52832 SoC-powered Link2Care Smartwatch DA13700, promotes elegant design alongside a 3D motion sensor for activity records, inactivity alerts, sleep monitoring, and fall detection. The smartwatch also integrates Nordic's nRF9160 SiP providing LTE-M/NB-IoT cellular IoT connectivity and GNSS, meaning the wearer’s location can be reported to nominated caregivers along with any SOS alert, while further information can be uploaded directly to the Cloud and customer service center via a cellular network. 

This movement towards prioritizing form alongside function is no accident. Luxury watch sales haven't been as affected by smartwatch sales as some might think. For example last year Swiss watch exports grew by 7.2 percent compared with the previous year with mechanical watches generating almost 80 percent of the growth [3]. If connected watches can deliver on both looks and functionality, all signs are that consumers will respond positively.   

The growing trend in fashionable smart jewelry 

Another burgeoning market is fashion-forward smart jewelry that simultaneously provides health data to wearers, sometimes in addition to built-in safety and security features such as location updates and SOS alert capabilities. 

Aesthetically pleasing smart rings, in particular, are challenging the dominance of smartwatches across the sector. Smart rings target two different markets - people who may not want to wear a watch, and those wanting or needing to collect health metrics. 

One Nordic-powered smart ring, the Ultrahuman Ring Air, can track and record a range of health parameters, and simultaneously offer the wearer activity or recovery recommendations. As well as looking the part, the device is designed to provide a range of metrics—including a movement index and a sleep index—that can help the user better understand and improve their fitness level and the factors that affect their metabolism. 

Although not a smart ring, the WHOOP 4.0, developed by U.S.-based human performance company, WHOOP, is a non-traditional smart wearable as it does not have a display and can be worn on one arm, allowing the user to also wear a classic watch on the opposite wrist. 

Watch this space the future of wearable tech 

The integration of wearable tech into high fashion is no passing trend. In the not too distant future, the boundaries could be pushed even further through concepts like AI-powered clothing design and customization, or interactive fashion experiences that go beyond the physical garment. 

And when powered by the next generation of highly integrated wireless SoCs, such as Nordic Semiconductor’s revolutionary nRF54H20, tomorrow’s wearables will not only be more fashionable, but even smaller, lighter, and more functional. 



1. Wearable unit shipments worldwide from 2014 to 2028. Statista, April 2024. 
2. 2019 Wearable Market Report. IDC, March 2020 
3. Record value and a sharp rise in volumes. Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, January 2024.


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