The watch industry may be troubled—sales have fallen every year since 2006—but on Kickstarter innovative watches rule, netting at least $15 million. (One called the CST-01 goes out this month; billed as the world's thinnest personal timepiece, it raised $1 million.) Listen up, traditionalists: Crowdfunding winners have important secrets.
1. Rubber or silicone
Of the top 10 most-funded watches, 7 have rubber or silicone bands. Leather tends not even to be funded.
2. Big square face
Half of the best funded watches look suspiciously iPod Nano-like. One raised $942,578 for letting the Nano snap atop its watch face.
3. Quantified self capabilities
Four of the top 10 watches have some kind of workout-tracking feature, and two are built around more general activity monitoring.
4. Interactive display
"Our expectations have been primed by the smartphone," says TrendWatching lead strategist David Mattin. Watches must follow.
5. Compact design
"The watch has to downplay gadgetry," Mattin says. Now they're about sleek functionality.
It's one way for a smartwatch to be more convenient than a smartphone.
7. Three to five available colors
Just enough for customers to find a favorite, but not too many to manufacture. Almost all successful watches fall into this range.
[David Cowles (watch); Shutterstock (watch face and color band source images); Pond5.Com (rubber and water-resistant watchband source images)]
A version of this article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.