These are tough times for fanciers of the horological. Anyone who adores a finely crafted timepiece – whether it is made by a Swiss artisan or an American fashion designer — is fighting a battle against the dorky smart watch. Smart watches are an awesome extension of the smart phone. They deliver relevant alerts right to your wrist so you can glance, know what’s going on, and keep going with your conversation or drive. But they, too often, look like a bulky device with a bright LED screen strapped to your wrist.
In the last few months though, that has all started to change. There are slim watches that wear easily and look – at least at a glance – like an old-school analog watch. They go with your outfit, fit your style, and look great – even if you are a woman.
These Fossil Q Hybrid analog watches alert you to calls by pointing the hands at one of the numbers on the face.
Before all this “Smart” wearables thing happened, you might have bought a watch from Fossil. They make lovely, reasonably priced timepieces for men and women. The company just jumped into the smart watch world by acquiring Misfit Wearables. And its first line of Hybrid Q watches (starting at $145) – part analog, part smart — that hearken back to the classic analog watches you expect from a designer like Fossil.
Thin, stylish, and analog, they look like a real watch because they are a real watch — with smart features. However, when you get a text or call, the watch buzzes your wrist. Glance at your watch and for a moment, the hands will zip around the face and point to the number on the dial you have told it is the code for that event. It will alert you to your alarms, texts, calendar or whatever you like.
The Hybrid Q is teaming with features you expect from a smart watch. It will also track steps, and you can control music and your phone camera from the watch. And, perhaps the best part? It uses a watch battery and very little power so you don’t have to charge it. Just change the battery every six months.
The elegant Jewel smart watch — powered by Android Wear — from Huawei will look good on you.
A watch this elegant makes you look smart, like someone capable of making time beautiful. These sophisticated watches from Huawei – the Jewel ($599.99 ) and Elegant ($499.99) for ladies — are actually smart too. Hiding behind that lovely exterior of design, jewels, and beautiful watch faces, is a fully loaded Android Wear watch that will do everything from monitor your heart rate to recognize and track whatever sport you decide to take up next. It will notify to you to calls, emails, texts, or whatever else you want to know about. And it will let you control your music and other phone features from your wrist. The company also makes simpler, elegant watches for men and women that look just as sophisticated without the bling.
The second analog hand on this Withings watch tracks your progress toward your step goal.
At first glance, you will assume the Activité ($149) is a classical horological watch with two analog dials. One telling you the time and the subdial telling you… something else. Only you will know that the something else is a step tracker keeping track of how close you are to your daily step goal. On your wrist, you will only see the time and this goal marker. It won’t light up. It doesn’t even have any buttons. When you want real data about your activity or sleep, open your phone and dig in. It’s tracking everything. It will also wake you with a slight buzz when you are sleeping your lightest, let you know with a buzz when you get a call or a text, and do everything else you expect from a smart watch. Plus it just looks real good doing it.
The Pebble 2 is a fashionable take on a more sportier smart watch.
The Pebble 2 + Heart Rate ($149) is a clever beauty among super smart watches. It is sleek and slender. The e-paper LCD screen is easy on the eyes – and on the battery. It’s smart – and not just because it connects to your phone, alerts you to calls, keeps track of your calendar, and sends the actual text of your messages and emails to your wrist, but because the way you interact with it is smart.
One button shows you your timeline – everything that’s on your calendar that’s in front of you and behind the moment you look. A heart rate monitor against your wrist constantly tracks your heart rate so you can look back at your day and see the impact of your movement. It tracks steps with the nifty Pebble Health app. And it’s water resistant so you can go swimming with it.
Beautiful, simple, slim but still super smart. Change the band and faces to match your mood.
Glance at your texts on this lovely watch and no one will suspect you of doing anything but checking the time. The Pebble Time Round is too thin, too round, too pretty for anyone to think you are wearing anything with a shred of geek in it. But it’s super smart: The smart alarm with wake you when you are in your lightest sleep. The notifications are detailed, including the actual text or email with an option to answer right from the watch. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, like the Pebble 2, but it does have a selection of elegant bands ($30) so you can accessorize and switch up your look without losing any data.
The Fitbit Blaze is a fitness tracker that looks like an elegant watch.
Everyone has a Fitbit, right? But if you are wearing something smart strapped to your wrist, don’t you want it to tell you the time? Enter: Fitbit Blaze ($199.95). It’s a Fitbit, not a watch, but it does a nice job of passing for a timepiece. It will also tell you when it’s time to work out and exactly how to do it via on-screen workouts. And the heart-rate monitor can tell you if you need to dial it up or scale back on your effort while you work out.
Of course, it has everything else you would expect from a Fitbit: step tracking, encouragement to get up off your duff, integration with a host of apps you already use, and notification from your smart phone of texts, calendar events, and all that. Choose from a selection of stylish and tempting watch bands and faces to make it your own.
The Misfit Phase looks like a lovely analog watch. It is also a clever fitness tracker and smart watch.
Elegant, simple, analog this Misfit Phase ($175) watch – from the creator of lots of lovely wearables we would wear even if they weren’t smart – obviously tells you the time. It’s an analog watch. (A pretty one.) It also tracks steps, distance, and calories. If your phone rings, it buzzes and the hands all sweep to point at the number you have told it means Mom (or whoever) is calling. A smart button helps you find your phone or take a selfie. The connected app lets you dig into all the data it is tracking on your to hack your own sleep patterns and walking habits to create a better you. And you can change the watch bands endlessly if you are a fickle fashion slave.
Which of these smart watches is for you? That depends on your budget, your style, and how much data you want shipped to your wrist. But whatever decision you make, it is nice to finally have a choice, right?
Want more tech that looks like something you would wear? Check out 7 Smart Wearables Disguised as Jewelry.