Montblanc elite living africaMont Blanc introduces its first-ever smart watch. (Photo: Mont Blanc)Mont Blanc has launched the Summit its first-ever smart watch

Jens Henning Koch, Mont Blanc's executive vice president marketing, told Elite Living Africa that development started on the Summit in the middle of 2016.

"It was quite quick ... but the opportunity and the need were there," he said.

The design of the watch, ensuring it was an elegant gentleman's timepiece as well as an impressive technological achievement, was "the priority", Koch said. "We wanted to enter the field with a unique watch."

The Summit keeps the curved sapphire glass of a traditional Mont Blanc – "so it is different to a phone or other smart watches" – so that it still has a "watch feeling".

In terms of the technology on offer in the Summit, it integrates Google Assistant, features a global translator and smart boarding system for storing travel documents such as boarding passes, a world clock, heart rate monitor, G-sensor, gyropscope, e-compass, barometer, Bluetooth and wifi connectivity, 4GB flash storage, and iphone and Android compatibility. The watch comes pre-loaded with apps including Uber, Foursqaure City Guide and Runtastic.

Bespoke design is another special feature of the Summit with options for the case including titanium and steel. For the strap, there are four choices of colour in sporty rubber, three colour choices for Sfumato leather from French calves, and an alligator skin option.

"We keep one eye to our heritage and past and one eye to the future," he said in regard to Mont Blanc blending classic styling with modern technology.

Koch said the African market is very important to Mont Blanc, "It is a growing market and the consumers appreciate high-end timepieces."

While he acknowledges that wealthy Africans will buy Mont Blanc products when they travel, Koch added that it is important to integrate more retail spaces within Africa, such as the brand's boutique at Johannesburg's O.R Tambo International Airport, as well as boutiques in Sandton and Cape Town's Victoria Wharf.

"We need to develop on a local level," he said when asked about further expansion in the African market.

Koch said that African consumers comprise an educated market and this fits in well with the Mont Blanc brand values, with the company starting out as a producer of writing instruments, "an expression of knowledge".

When asked about whether there were any plans to make a Summit smart watch especially for women, Koch simply said: "Stay tuned."