Hublot to develop watches with connected strap

Hublot is looking at including functions that relate to a wearer’s location as well links to exclusive information about soccer in the watchband, chief executive officer Ricardo Guadalupe said Thursday in an interview in Paris. It will not add technology inside watch cases as the timepieces would lose their “soul,” he said.

“Smart devices are really part of our world now,” Guadalupe said on the sidelines of a promotional soccer event on the eve of the 2016 European soccer tournament. “I think we will be ready for next year.”

Hublot follows sister brand TAG Heuer marrying Swiss craftsmanship with connected technology as Apple challenges watchmakers for a place on clients’ wrists. TAG Heuer started selling its own $1,500 smartwatch in November, and one month later said it aimed to boost production to 2,000 pieces a week from a previous 1,200. Swiss watch exports last year posted their first annual decline since 2009, weighed down by slumping demand in Asia and the arrival of the Apple Watch.

Montblanc, owned by Richemont, already sells a smart watchband called the e-Strap.

Hublot is still growing this year “but it’s a bit tougher,” Guadalupe said, adding he will cut production if sales deteriorate. “We believe in a difficult market that we should do better than our competitors.”

Hublot Saphire all-black