by Al Sacco

Awkward Apple Watch band shows glimmer of a great idea

Dec 16, 2015
Consumer ElectronicsSmartwatches

BrilleTark's PRIME Apple Watch band isn't going to win any fashion awards, but the idea behind the product addresses one of the modern smartwatch's obvious shortcomings: battery life.

brilletark prime apple watch band battery
Credit: BrilleTark

One of the most significant differences between today’s popular smartwatches and real watches is the need to charge the “smart” versions every 24 hours or so. You can wear a real watch for years without ever taking it off, but smartwatch users need to charge their watches every night, alongside their phones. 

Battery life is a major challenge for smartwatch makers. The more value a smartwatch offers, the more frequently people use it, and the quicker they drain the internal power supply. It’s a nasty cycle. Fashion-conscious folks also want smartwatches that look good, which means manufacturers can’t just pack huge batteries into their products and expect people to ignore the fact that they’re heavy and awkward.

[Related: My smartwatch turned me into a rude bastard (don’t let it happen to you)]

Taiwanese “Apple Watch accessory developer” BrilleTark came up with a possible solution that, while rough, is immediately intriguing. And it’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.

Removable batteries key to BrilleTark PRIME Apple Watch band

The PRIME Apple Watch band uses two removable batteries to keep the Apple Watch at full capacity while you wear it. BrilleTark says the band provides an extra 18 hours of Apple Watch battery life, or “double Apple Watch battery,” and it charges the Watch via a “secret 6-pin port (at the bottom of Apple Watch).” And because it can keep the Watch’s built-in battery at or near full capacity, it should extend the overall life of the power pack.

BrilleTark is not the first company to show off an Apple Watch band that powers the device; in May, shortly after the Apple Watch release, a company called ReserveStrap unveiled its rechargeable Watch band, though it still won’t ship until some time next year. (ReserveStrap also charges the Watch using the 6-pin port, and the company posted a video that suggests the method is actually faster than powering up via Apple’s wireless charging “puck.”)

reservestrap white closed ReserveStrap

ReserveStrap for Apple Watch

However, the ReserveStrap does not have removable batteries, and it recharges via micro USB. In other words, you still have to take it off to when you want to power up. The PRIME band’s removable batteries mean, in theory, you could keep the Apple Watch on for extended periods of time, and have to recharge only the separate batteries each night. The current version of the Apple Watch isn’t fully waterproof, so you’d still have to take it off when you shower or swim. But future smartwatches won’t likely have this same limitation.

Intriguing idea in an eyesore of a package

Of course, BrilleTark’s band is as ugly and it looks uncomfortable. I don’t think this particular band is going to set the smartwatch world ablaze. But it’s not hard to imagine Apple eventually releasing a sleek, slim band with thin removable batteries in a future, waterproof Apple Watch. It did, after all, create that “secret” 6-pin port for a reason. 

When I was in high school, my father gave me what was then a very nice Citizen Eco-Drive watch as a gift. The first thing he said to me was something like, Don’t ever take it off and leave it somewhere. Someone will steal it, and you’ll never see it again.

It was wise advice, and I still have that watch — though I did eventually take it off and leave it in a bureau drawer in my home. His words ring in my ears every night when I remove my Apple Watch and clip it to the Shapeways Charging Clip (one of my favorite Apple Watch accessories), and the world will be a better place when I no longer have to hear my dad’s voice right before bed.