Moto 360 aims to hit the 'whoah' mark with a bold smartwatch fashion statement

Motorola's Jim Wicks describes the inspiration for the smartwatch's circular display, but dangles very few specifics about the new device.

Motorola’s upcoming Moto 360 smartwatch was designed, first and foremost, for mainstream consumer appeal.

Motorola’s upcoming Moto 360 smartwatch was designed, first and foremost, for mainstream consumer appeal.

Motorola's upcoming Moto 360 smartwatch was designed, first and foremost, for mainstream consumer appeal--and to reach this goal, Motorola had to embrace traditional wristwatch design trends.

We're talking circles, folks. Motorola was committed to a circular display for its upcoming Android Wear smartwatch from the very beginning.

That's the message that was shared by Jim Wicks, Motorola's design chief, during a Wednesday video chat. A square watch wouldn't pique the interest of mainstream users, he said. Of square watches, "You don't get that whoa kind of thing, you want to hit that whoa mark," he said.

And so designing a circular-display watch was a design requirement--"table stakes," Wicks said. Motorola didn't want to "swim against the cultural current" of a traditional wristwatch market in which 85 percent of all watches sold are circular. And so we have the Moto 360.

"In designing this timepiece, we felt it was important to not to try to defy gravity," Wicks said. "You don't want to make consumers change for this tech. We want to make this tech map for them."

Wicks briefly touched on the challenges posed by a circular display, answering a pre-submitted question about whether a round display sacrifices function for form. Quite the opposite, Wicks replied. "The display of the device, being round, allows us to get the most amount of surface area, creating a very comfortable device," he said. "If you took the same diagonal, about 46 millimeters, and made a square device, you'd have a decent amount of surface area, but the device would be poking into your wrist bones."

In other words: The Moto 360 is larger than a square smartwatch, and this mitigates the "content cropping" problem created by circular displays. As Wicks said, the circular display "creates a lot of nice white space around the graphics" and this supports the Android Wear goal of surfacing "glanceable" information.

During a 20-minute interview with Motorola's social media lead, Wicks waxed eloquent about the watch's new design. He lauded the Moto 360's brushed stainless steel casing and leather band (which will be interchangeable, making the watch more marketable to mainstream users). But throughout the discussion, he shared few salient details about specs and features.

We learned the Moto 360 will not have a camera. "We did not see it as essential to what people wanted in this wearable," Wicks said, adding that with all of the Moto 360's Android Wear contextual information, adding a camera "wasn't the best trade off."

Wicks wouldn't share specifics on battery life, but noted "power management is something we take very seriously" and that all of the power-management features employed in the Moto X smartphone will be advanced and applied to the new watch.

Will the Moto 360 be waterproof? Wicks said details will be coming, but described the watch as "water resistant."

And observers are correct: The Moto 360 doesn't have a USB port. Wicks wouldn't comment on how the watch will be charged, but said, "People don't want to see grommets; they don't want to see exposed electronics."

The chat session ended with no pricing details, but Wicks did say that the Moto 360 will work with all Android phones running Android 4.3 and later OSes.

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