Pebble introduces a premium Steel version of its color smartwatch

It's only been a week since Pebble introduced Pebble Time, its second-generation color smartwatch, and there's already a new version of it up for grabs. Today at Mobile World Congress, the company has just announced Pebble Time Steel, a premium all-metal iteration of the Time. Indeed, the entirety of the Time Steel -- from the bezel to the buttons -- is made out of stainless steel and is available in silver, black and gold finishes. It has the same dimensions as the Time, but is about 1mm thicker. That isn't so bad, especially since the Time Steel apparently has a longer battery life of up to 10 days instead of seven. As if that wasn't luxurious enough, when you buy a Pebble Time Steel, you'll get two straps: a stainless steel band plus a leather one.

Oh, and that's not all. Remember that smart accessory port that's on the Pebble Time? Well, today Pebble is also announcing a new open hardware accessory platform that developers can use to create "smartstraps" for the watch, using that smart accessory port to further extend the watch's functionality. Simply use the quick release trigger on the Time (and of course, the Time Steel) to swap out the straps and the smartstrap would have an additional flap that attaches to the smart accessory port.

As for what kind of new functions the straps will bring? Well, CEO Eric Migicovsky suggested perhaps a GPS strap, or one with a heart rate monitor, or even a battery strap that extends the watch's battery life to three or four weeks. He says that instead of integrating these sensors -- which are often obsolete in a few years anyway -- into the watch, it's more efficient to have them be modular. Pebble is already working on partnerships to come up with some of these smartstraps, but it also wants to hear from its community about additional ideas.

"It's one of the reasons why we wanted to launch the Time on Kickstarter," says Migicovsky. "Our plans involve more than just people buying the watch. We want to involve the community, to come up with the different straps." He says that we'll likely see some of the early smartstraps by the end of the year.

As for the Pebble Time Steel, if you've already backed the Pebble Time, but now you'd rather have the Steel instead, don't worry. Migicovsky says you can upgrade to the Steel by increasing the amount of money you're kicking in without losing your spot in line. The special Kickstarter price for the Time Steel is $250 (and yes, you get both the leather and steel bands for that price), while the final retail cost is $299. The Pebble Time Steel will, however, ship in July rather than May.

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Photos by Carlos Martinez