The introduction the E-ink men’s watch has taken evolution of wristwatches on another step.

You may already have come across E-ink, the technology has already been in use in some phones and e-readers, probably most notably in the  Amazon Kindle as seen right.

Designers love E-ink displays because they can be formed into radically different configurations to their LCD forbears, as you will see from those watches already on the market.

One of the first new ways to use this technology is to use it to make curved displays, to form futuristic looking wristband style watches that would have made the “futuristic LED watch” famous from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, look old fashioned.

At present displays have been in black and white or grayscales, but later this year color E-ink displays will be available.

The Japanese watch making company Seiko will be making a line of watches with e-ink displays available, but the latest revision has truly upped the ante. With its product name “Future Now,” its low-power, crystal clear grayscale screen has been sure to catch the eye of more than a few people who love to have the very latest contemporary watch design. Prices are probably going to be high to start with, but  are available now at affordable prices.
The technology that has moved this e-ink watch into overdrive is its active matrix display; the same type of screen technology behind your typical LCD panel. By using active matrix, all of the legibility and low-power consumption benefits of e-ink are combined with a much richer range of imagery and data display.

Compared to earlier e-ink watches whose displays could only render a few hundred individual segments in black or white only, the “Future Now” watch can render 80,000 pixels in four shades of gray, giving a 300 dpi resolution for intensely sharp clear images even within the confines of a wristwatch sized screen.

Another Brand that has utilized the e-ink technology to produce a range of men’s watches is Phosphor. As you will see in our Gents Watches Guide selection, if you want your watch to be a talking point, an e-ink one can do that for you, e.g.

With any new technology evolution can take place quite rapidly, the second generation of e-ink is already here, called E-ink Pearl.

E Ink Pearl gives a dramatic increase in contrast, that gives eReaders a contrast ratio close to a paperback book. The crisper text and detailed graphics are also highly readable in direct sunlight. Pearl’s 16 levels of grey produce a sharper rendering of images with smooth tones and rich detail.

Then there is improved speed, so that “turning pages” in eReaders using E Ink technology today is quite fast at typically under a second, but with E Ink Pearl, a page turn can happen in a fraction of that time. This should be useful for applications such as eMagazines where scanning from one article to another is common. Additionally, E Ink Pearl supports localized animation for more enticing advertising content for eNewspaper or eMagazines and a richer educational experience in eTextbooks.

E Ink already makes the lowest power displays in the eReader industry. Pearl technology advances that capability and unlike other technologies, E Ink is bi-stable; this means it needs no power to hold an image or page of text. No need for bookmarks an E Ink Pearl-equipped reader can hold a page for weeks or even months, with no discernable battery drain. Battery life in watches should be extended.

Back to Gents Watches, our thoughts on what we are likely to see in the future.

E-ink watches already look so different to watches using other types of display. We see two areas where changes are likely to occur.

Firstly we think the displays on e-ink watches will become more robust, so that the displays will have greater scratch resistance than at present.

The second change will be the introduction of color to watch displays, not only for aesthetic reasons. Using color will allow displays to show more graphical information, something that we feel will be made use of in sports watches in particular. This will allow real time performance related data to be more easily displayed and read.

A third area likely to be addressed is the problem of lighting an e-ink watch display, or at least making it easier to read in poor light. Having said that, the bigger display size and increased contrast ratios of the latest e-ink watches does minimize these shortcomings in all but very poor light.


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