After many delays, the Pebble E-Paper Watch, which made a huge splash on Kickstarter last April, is finally ready to ship this month.
At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Eric Migicovsky, the primary engineer on the Pebble Watch, announced the official release date for the highly anticipated e-paper watch will be Jan. 23, 2013.
“The models coming off the line look great and software is looking good,” Migicovsky told the New York Times. “We’re just ready to get them out in the wild.”
When the Kickstarter campaign ended in May, Pebble raised $10,266,845 from 68,929 backers; the company also sold out all of its “backing tiers,” which incentivize customers with different rewards depending on their donation.
For months, thousands of Kickstarter backers waited patiently for Pebble to ship out its e-paper watch. The Kickstarter video originally announced that the watch would ship in September 2012, but Pebble eventually delayed the watch’s release date as the company was forced to scale the project to sate the overwhelming demand for their smart wristwatch; Migicovsky originally expected no more than a few thousand orders, but when it was all said and done, he would need to fill orders for 85,000 watches.
“Pebble took off faster and larger than we ever expected and we had to switch to a Plan B, which consisted of a more traditional consumer product manufacturing process,” Migicovsky told the Times.
At CES 2013, Migicovsky showed off the finalized design for the Pebble Watch, and he even gave a demo of its interface and features. As the original Kickstarter project showcased, Pebble is a completely customizable watch that works with your smartphone but also exists in an ecosystem of its own. Users can download new watchfaces or even sports and fitness apps so they can track their workouts as they happen, but by adding a phone to the equation, users can also control their music and receive notifications from their Calendar, Phone, Texting apps or even Facebook and Twitter, directly on the watch’s e-ink display. The phone connection is accomplished by Bluetooth 4.0, also known as “Smart Bluetooth.”
Migicovsky and his team had no idea the demand for their device would be so robust.
“When you are making a couple thousand watches you can afford a few missteps,” Migicovsky said. “But when you’re making 85,000 watches, you have to make sure every piece of the puzzle fits together.”
In turn, Pebble sought to figure out how to best scale production for the e-paper watch. The team made product molds, continually tweaking the design. Engineers continued to update and improve the watch’s interface and operating system. The team refused to announce a new release date to its backers, because Pebble felt it was more important to get it right rather than ship tens of thousands of inferior watches.
Now that the Pebble Watch is finally ready to ship, the team feels confident that its e-paper watch can compete with the big boys.
“We’ve thrown our hats into the ring and held up pretty well,” he said. “We’re proud to see our products alongside others in the market.”
The e-paper watch, in addition to its many software features, is also resistant to most wet weather conditions, including rain and snow; the company says it can even be submerged underwater. The watches feature an ambient light sensor and a compass, and all software updates will be released over the air wirelessly. Migicovsky anticipates releasing new updates every two to three weeks, at least toward the beginning of the watch’s release.
Pebble sells its e-paper watch in three colors, including Arctic White, Jet Black and Cherry Red, and costs $150. The company plans to fulfill all of its Kickstarter orders before it ships out the thousands of watches sold through Pebble’s online storefront.