Casio plans to release a smartwatch in early 2016

The wristwatch king is ready to get smart, but can it compete with Apple and Google?

Casio recently launched a museum exhibit in Japan to showcase its many pioneering digital wristwatches - the "smart watches" that came long before modern smartwatches. But now it seems like the company was simply marking the end of one era before starting another.

That's right: Casio is gearing up to enter the smartwatch market with an entry of its own. The company shared its plans with the Wall Street Journal, saying it's been working on the project for four years now. The publication says the device will "[target] men involved in outdoor sports and leisure, both in terms of functions and appearance."

According to the report, Casio's primary goal is to make a device that is comfortable and durable, and that is a watch first with smart features secondary - rather than, say, a wearable device that acts like a miniature smartphone. The company's president acknowledges that some past Casio digital efforts, like the ones seen at the museum, focused too much on gimmicks.

"At times we just showed off with quirky features and then pulled those products when they didn’t sell well," says Kazuhiro Kashio, who succeeded his father as president last week following the elder's 27-year term. Going forward, he adds, "We are trying to bring our smartwatch to a level of watch perfection: a device that won’t break easily, is simple to put on, and feels good to wear."

The watch should hit the market by March 2016, with prices expected to start in the range of ¥50,000 (about £260) - putting it not far from the Apple Watch Sport. In other words, Casio's not looking to take the lowest end of the smartwatch market. Hopefully we'll see something sooner than later as competitors keep gobbling up market share in the meantime.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal via Wired UK]