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Casio forays into hybrid smartwatches

The WSD-F20 is different from other Android watches as it is targeted at active outdoor people

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
Koji Naka during an interview with Gulf News at Casio Middle East FZE, Dubai. Naka said thecompany did not launch the first model — WSD-F10 — as it was for test marketing.
Gulf News

Dubai: Casio, known for its G-Shock, Edifice and Pro Trek watches, has ventured into the smartwatch space but with a difference when compared to others.

The Japanese company has two Android Wear smartwatches — WSD-F10 and WSD-F20, which is a part of its Pro-Trek range.

“Casio has always been at the forefront of technology by launching world’s first touchscreen watch, the first weather predicting watch, first databank watches and first digital watches, so it’s very natural for us to progress into smartwatches,” Koji Naka, managing director of Casio Middle East, told Gulf News.

He said the company did not launch the first model — WSD-F10 — as it was for test marketing. The second model is available in the market for Dh1,899.

“Smartwatches aren’t for everybody as there are limitations with the current crop of watches and we are targeting outdoor active people. The other smartwatches in the market all look the same, so Casio has a competitive advantage,” he said.

The watch can be used with or without a smartphone and looks like a top-end runner’s watch, and does not look like a common Android watches.

“Our watch is connected through the low-power GPS. The watch will last for one month in time-watch mode but with apps, it will last for almost four days. It is targeted at people who go for trekking, cycling, fishing, winter sports and watersports, and you can pin the path of your journey by providing an offline map in areas without cellular service,” he said.

The watch has been tested against military-grade conditions for temperature, pressure and shock impact.

Moreover, he said the new ‘Location Memory’ app enables users to customise maps by adding markers and notes, so that they can revisit otherwise unmarked spots on a hike.

“We are serious about the smartwatch segment as we are a digital watch manufacturer for many years. The second smartwatch will slowly be rolled out across the Middle East and Africa in a phased manner,” Naka said.

He said the smartwatch segment is growing in the region but “our focus is quite different”. Even though the regional watch sales registered a drop in sales of 35 per cent but for Casio, watches division were stable.

“G-shock is growing faster than Edifice. Asians like Edifice but Filipinos prefer G-Shock,” he said.

Suresh Somanath, general manager of MidAsia Trading, sole distributor for Casio watches, said that the Casio watch sales have grown 23 per cent year on year in the first half in the UAE.

“The UAE is one of the best market for Casio globally, in terms of market share and amount of outlet per capita and visibility of the brand. We sell around 100,000 units per month, which ranges from Dh20 to Dh15,000,” he said.

The Japanese company achieved a total worldwide shipment of its G-Shock surpassing the 100-million mark. The first model was launched in 1983.

“G-Shock has a strong following due to its unique style and ruggedness,” Somanath said.

Last week, the company launched its limited-edition G-Shock GA110DB-7A in the UAE by teaming up with internationally recognised electronic dance music DJ — Dash Berlin. The watch features the official Dash Berlin logo on the band and band loop, case back engraving.

Having already launched smartwatches, Casio is putting more emphasis on hybrid smartwatches which are gaining traction among high-end consumers.

Naka said that the ‘Casio Connected’ watches, coming soon, will be a big thing for the year. It will bridge the gap between a traditional timepiece and a smartwatch.

“It will have a Bluetooth connection and will be solar powered, and will look like a traditional Casio watch. It will self-adjust time anywhere in the world and employs the world’s first three-way time sync system that receives both radio wave and GPS satellite time calibration signals, while also connecting to time servers by pairing with a smartphone,” he said.