By  on September 5, 2014

Motorola is breaking into the wearables market today with the launch of the Moto 360 smartwatch, billed by the company as a modern timepiece that, needless to say, is very technologically advanced.

Like most other smartwatches on the market, the device connects to the wearer’s mobile device, displaying content such as calendar notifications and text messages and even giving directions to a particular destination. Much of the functionality is activated by just talking to the watch, according to Dickon Isaacs, design director at Motorola. For example, the wearer just has to say “Navigate to home,” and, over time, the watch, similar to Google Glass, will learn things such as the wearer’s address and behavior patterns.

There is, however, a key point of differentiation: The design came before the technology. After several iterations of ideas, the design team had a breakthrough. “We realized that rather than designing the watch around existing technology, we should really take a step back and breathe and figure out what design we think it should be,” Isaacs told WWD. The look and feel were inspired by his trip earlier this year to Baselworld, where he immersed himself in the high-end segment of the timepiece market.

Along with engineers, the design team looked at the existing technology in most wearables, which are largely square or rectangular with sharp corners.

“As much as we tried to make that look stylish, it didn’t hit the bar of designing something that people would want to wear all day. A square or rectangular display always ends up looking like a gadget,” Isaacs said of the multiple watch designs and functional prototypes that were tried before the final product was created. “It’s been a multiyear journey for us.”

Two colorways go on sale today: a dark metal face with a black leather strap and a light metal face with a gray leather strap, both retailing for $250 at motorola.com, Best Buy (and bestbuy.com) and Google Play. Later this fall, Moto versions with metal chain-link bracelets will go on sale for $300.

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