Style is probably the last thing that early manufacturers of smartwatches thought of when designing them.
It’s not that the early releases were ugly, some of them were even stylish to a degree. It’s just that the early smartwatches were geared towards techies and their like.
The same group that would, in a heartbeat, choose function over form any day. All things changed when Sony Ericsson released the LiveView in 2010. The floodgates have opened and every manufacturer wants a piece of the smartwatch pie.
Not content with just being an additional appendage to your smartphone, manufacturers are now loading their smartwatches with operating systems (OS). Multi-core processors power these OSes and they can perform fitness-related tasks among others.
As for the design, it has undergone a revolution. The new smartwatches can hold their own against the luxury watches of old, seamlessly combining form and function.
1. Breitling Exospace B55
Manufacturers of pilot’s watches usually follow two ways when designing one: either a watch that’s, well, useful for pilots or create nostalgic pieces that mimic the style worn by aviators during the 50s and 60s.
Naturally, the latter is more appealing to watch enthusiasts. Breitling’s newest foray into the smartwatch game, the Exospace B55 Connected, is one of those watches.
Made from matter finished black titanium and 46mm in diameter, the Exospace is a bit on the massive side. However, it is nowhere near uncomfortable to wear, the short curved-down logs and lightweight alloy make sure of that.
Overall, the design is both sporty and youthful, you can pretty much wear this anywhere since it can withstand 100 meters of water resistance.
While not really a full-blown smartwatch with all the standard bells and whistles such as a touchscreen and GPS, the Exospace is more of a watch that shows notification from your phone. The small LCD screen will display your smartphone’s messages, alerts, phone calls, and all other notifications.
2. Apple Watch Series 2
Just like its smartphone counterpart, you’ll either love or hate the Apple Watch. It goes for all the versions: the first Apple Watch, Series 1 and then Series 2. There’s simply no middle ground here.
Apple has fitted the all models with the ff.: interchangeable straps, a digital crown which can be used to scroll or zoom when navigating the user interface, and a touchscreen that uses Apple’s Force Touch technology.
The newest iteration of the Apple Watch, the Series 2, is very similar design-wise with the Series 1. It also has the same dual-core processor of the Series 1. The similarities end there, though.
The Series 2 brings many improvements over its predecessor. These include the ff: an included GPS chip, a brighter display (450 nits vs 1000 nits on the Series 2), and being “swim-proof” and not just simply splash-proof.
Being swim-proof means users can use the new smartwatches while scuba-diving, waterskiing, and other water sports that involve high-speed water or submersion below shallow depth. There’s also a fire speaker that ejects water after a swim.
You can also choose which kind of casing you prefer for your Apple Watch Series 2: aluminum, steel, or ceramic. It can last up to 18 hours on a single charge.
3. TAG Heuer Connected
The Swiss-maker’s first foray into the smartwatch market, the Tag Heuer Connected, is a beautifully designed smartwatch that sports a powerful processor, a big display, and a stainless-steel frame.
Compared to some of its competitors, it is on the bulky side and for a luxe smartwatch, it uses a shocking amount of plastic on its materials. A piece of sapphire crystal protects the screen of the Connected from scratches.
Underneath the protection is the 1.5-inch screen with a resolution of 360×360. The dial is large, measuring 46.2mm wide.
Unlike some of the newest smartwatches, the Connected lacks a couple of features that are almost standard for Android Wear devices. These include a GPS and a heart-rate sensor. That’s offset, though, with its blazing fast 1.6GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, $GB of internal storage, and a large 410mAh battery.
4. Skagen Connected
Classified as a hybrid watch and not a smartwatch, the Skagen Connected is a timepiece for people who are not looking to continuously glance at their smartwatches for notifications and the like.
Hybrid watch or analogue watch, the Skagen Connected is for watch enthusiasts who appreciate a good design. There’s no screen, no processor inside, and no operating system runs in the background.
The Skagen Connected is made up of an all-stainless steel body, genuine leather, plush Milanese loop bands, and easy to read dials. It comes in four styles, all of them looking distinct and classy. The smaller dial inside the larger one handles all the hybrid watch’s smarter features.
You can also use the companion app to preset a daily goal for your fitness activity. The smaller dial then, displaying numbers 0 – 100, shows you how you’re doing with your goal. The minimalist look of the dials blend nicely with the overall design of the Skagen Connected.
5. Michael Kors Access Bradshaw
Using the same design as that of the original Bradshaw, Michael Kors’ newest smartwatch is a premium looking timepiece. Water-resistant and comes with some bonus watch faces, the Access Bradshaw runs on Android Wear 2.0.
The new watch faces can be used to customize the smartwatch. You can change the background, dial, and the crystal colors while some themes even allow you to add information that’s available at a glance.
The display of the Access Bradshaw is clear and crisp and it has a 360×290 resolution, its sensors occupying the bottom part of the screen. Underneath, a Snapdragon 2100 processor with 4GB of local storage powers the Access Bradshaw.
Absent, however, is a heart-rate sensor for fitness conscious individuals.
The smartwatch sector has come a long way since the first digital watch was released. You can now do so much more with a timepiece without even removing your phone from your pocket. As the features continue improving, so does the design. Gone are the smartwatches that only techies would appreciate, in their place are beautiful and intricate timepieces.
Surely your wrist deserves so much more.