Words By: Sam Kessler
In an ever more connected world, we want technology at our fingertips. Failing that, our wrists seem to be more than adequate. While it’s not yet replaced handsets, the smartwatch looks to be becoming the must have tech necessity of 2016, with the Apple Watch firmly leading the way.
You might instantly think of the technological giant’s trailblazing device as the must-have iteration of the smartwatch, but there’s plenty more to consider as well. It all depends what you’re looking for in your wrist tech with some equally digitally-savvy alternatives out there.
There may be plenty of actual watches out there that incorporate tech elements – Bulgari, Breitling and more besides have dabbled in digital – but this is a list for pure tech devices. So, without further ado, here is our selection of the moment’s best smartwatches – with nary a mechanical movement in sight.
There’s simply no way we couldn’t talk about the Apple Watch. The purest version of the smartwatch available today, the impact the Apple Watch is immeasurable; nearly every tech company has since released their own version, though with barely a fraction of Apple’s success.
It allows you to do anything you can on your iPhone from simple notifications vibrating your wrist to Apple Pay and calls. It even acts as a host for Siri, if she doesn’t pervade your life enough already. With Apple’s signature smooth, minimalist design, it’s a wonderfully tactile, exceptionally intuitive gadget. It breaks down the barriers further between you and technology and, while still a few steps removed from cyborg technology, makes you as a person feel that much more connected.
This was the big news at Baselworld early in the year, not just that TAG Heuer were making a smartwatch – they were by no means the only ones – but that they would be partnering with Intel to do so. Therefore it’s no surprise that the Connected is firmly on the smart side rather than the watch.
The digital dial does a fair high resolution imitation of TAG’s signature style, customisable to a number of different looks. More than that however, it’s iOS compatible and works with a huge number of apps from Google. The main point about the Connected is that it doesn’t feel like a smartwatch. The weighty brushed steel case, bezel and rubber strap are more like a Carrera than a piece of tech; the best of both worlds.
The vast applications of the average smartwatch can be overwhelming to say the least, and having disembodied AIs listening to your commands can be a little bit unnerving. Samsung’s answer to the Apple Watch is therefore a bit of a relief, more streamlined as it is. It doesn’t act as an alternative to your phone, more as a complement to it.
Of the two versions, the standard and the Classic, we prefer the more ‘watchy’ look of the latter, complete with bezel grip, useful considering that’s how you navigate. Apps are created specifically for the S2 in partnership with Samsung rather than more generic examples, meaning that, while limited in number, they are exceptional. That, combined with a number of very cool dials – including some by designer Alessandro Mendini – make Samsung’s rival smartwatch a definite contender.
As with the connected, at first glance the Vector Luna looks like any steel timepiece, if slightly more generically so than the Connected. Particularly striking in all black, it could easily be mistaken for a minimal quartz chronograph, complete with the crown and dual pushers. These pushers however are how you control the digital screen.
As well as a host of dedicated apps to download, even that standard Vector acts like a fitness device, tracking your steps and calories burned, as well as quality of sleep. Where the Luna really holds its own however is charge. Anyone that’s used the Apple Watch for long will have had more than a little frustration in that area, but with a 30 day battery life off a single charge, it can be forgotten about whenever you’re not wearing it.
It’s odd to see a digital dial in such a classically-styled case, especially if you decide to opt for one of the more contemporary dials, but it works nicely. There’s no mistaking the 1.4” AMOLED display with a real dial, so this more traditional look works as an intriguing juxtaposition rather than an attempt at covert tech.
Compatible with both Android and iOS, there’s an unending supply of new apps to work with, more being published every single day. It may not have quite the level of finish at the Connected – TAG Heuer’s horological heritage comes into play there – but the cold-forged steel is nothing to complain about, particularly with the comfortable Milanese-like bracelet. Think of the Huawei as a more discreet, dressier alternative to the other, sportier smartwatches out there.
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