Yes I know. For anyone over13, this time of the year comes around all too quickly. But I am sorry to say that we all have to get our thinking caps on again and consider what to buy our loved ones.
Now I guess in these trying times and as we all grow up, even the wealthiest of us realize that a gimmick is not worth throwing any considerable amount of money at. It just isn’t PC anymore to waste money just for the point of it.
The Death of the Wrist Watch
Ever since the early 1970’s, when for some reason still to be explained the sales of new wrist watches, across all price bands fell through the floor. The demise of the wrist-worn timepiece has been eagerly predicted. Sometimes with due consideration and sound reasoning, sometimes not.
It can’t come as news to you that the future of the wrist watch has appeared on numerous occasions in recent history, to look something very akin to that of the long case clock.
Yes at times the dear old wrist watch appeared to be faced with a future defined by dusty old auction rooms and doddery old folk with a little too much time on their hands, and enough spare cash to be able to purchase an old familiar memory.
This may well still be the case, but not quite yet I feel.
Gadget or Gimmick?
Technology has made several contributions to the resurrection of the wrist watch. Some much more practical than others.
The first obvious intervention was the appearance in 1972, of Hamilton’s first ever digital watch, followed a few years down the road by Casio and Timex introducing the addition of the calculator.Then in 1982 Seiko, were the guilty party for the in-built TV watch, followed 2 years later with the world’s first computer watch.which was actually just a mini wrist-worn computer terminal.
Then in the 1990’s, as the Smartphone began to become truly smart, just as the end of the wrist worn watch seemed nigh. After all why would you need a watch? You have a perfectly accessible and more importantly a deadly accurate timepiece in your shiny new phone. And just as the PDA started to suffer a terminal lack of an interest, one that never really had the chance to become fulfilled. The name that we now know so well was in 2003, introduced into the world. Smart Watch.
So who brought that about? Apple? Casio? Seiko? No surely not the proverbial trend follower Timex?
No to all of them. The term was introduced by Microsoft themselves. However, not in the context that we now recognize. Microsoft’s ‘Smart Watch’ was more and extension to the device that they were so desperate to save, the doomed PDA.
Ever since we have been able to mark the passing of time, we have introduced the latest technology into our time pieces. Over time each new invention has endured only one incarnation. The town hall clock, the long case, the pocket watch, and so on. The only tinkering we ever did to these was to increase accuracy, we didn’t start adding functionality until the advent of the wrist watch.
Then Apple, used their unique understanding of their iconic iPhone, who fused that functionality into a wrist watch, and the smart phone as we understand it today was born in the shape of the iwatch.
So is the smart watch a gadget or a gimmick?
I truly believe that the smart watch is here to stay, I think in our highly digitized lives its place in our personal data/communication link is secured and can only develop.We may tinker with the functionality offered and we may end up, and indeed even now are being offered variations in functionality between manufacturers and indeed even through model variations.
So What to do for Xmas?
If you are considering a smart watch as a gift for a loved one, I will in the following paragraphs try to de-clutter the options open to you.
If your loved one has an iPhone, and their next watch is likely to be an iPhone also, then the iwatch is the glaringly obvious choice. However, you need to bear in mind that it is far from a budget choice and I would strongly advise to approach this with caution. It is within the price bracket that you would need to be fairly confident that the Apple connection is one that your partner is likely to continue with. Otherwise, consider dropping down the price bracket and find one of the cheaper manufacturers that offer Apple compatibility, nearly all of them do.
There is also the factor that the iPhone’s design, apart from within the Apple fan club, has proven to be a bit Marmite. You either love it or loath it
So leaving the Apple to one side, the options fall into 3 very distinct brackets and are easily defined by cost.
If your budget is tight, or you are unsure of your partner’s future use of a watch, or even if it may prove to just be a fad. I personally would lean towards the budget side and probably look at a fitness tracker. There are many such as Xiaomi’s MiBand 2&3 (I currently have a 3 on test, review to be published sometime this month). You will find many examples available between £25-£35. If you click on the Apple carousel at the bottom of the page or even the Bangood banner in the sidebar of this post then you will find plenty on either site. The prices between both sites are much of a muchness so choose whichever site that you trust the most.
If you have a little extra money, or your partner takes his keep fit a little more seriously and will gain some value out of a more technical piece of equipment. Then you will find plenty of watch reviews on both mine and other sites to choose from in the bracket of between £150-£450, or there abouts. At the lower end of that sits the Xiaomi Amazfit Pace 2. There is a review of this on this site. Alternatively you could play a little safer and opt for the world’s leading brand FitBit, or even the buzz brand in the US MisFit. If this is the way that you decide to go then a click on either of the banners in the sidebar of this post will take you to the best prices available, direct from the manufacturer.
If you have access to a more substantive budget, or if you are considering a very special gift, or if your partner takes their activities much more seriously or they are a watch connoisseur then there is a multitude of choice ranging from around £500, to eternity.
I will try to summarize a few of the more iconic choices available below. The links below the pictures lead to the very best deals that I can find currently.
Samsung Galaxy Watch
As Apple is Apple and so Galaxy is Samsung or so you would presume – as with so much tech, the ecosystem of your smartwatch often matters. Although the Galaxy is much less tied to its phone twin than the Apple. Unlike the sci-fi style of the Apple Watch, however, the Galaxy hides its functionality much more effectively – with that stainless steel case and Dive-watch-style bezel, it looks much more conventional than it is.
The bezel, in fact, is how you navigate the Galaxy’s applications, arguably a more satisfying method than big fingers on a tiny touchscreen. It’s good for fitness too – including swimming. This is a smartwatch that’s even water-resistant down to 50m.
Montblanc Summit 2
You can’t fault the exterior of this watch – DLC (or ‘diamond-like coated’) steel or grade 2 titanium are options.
The interior is equally impressive: the Summit 2 has a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 3100 chip. One benefit of being the first smartwatch to have this is that it gives the wearer (a claimed) battery life of up to a week between charges on ‘time-only’ mode.
Yes, if you have to occasionally wind that mechanical watch, of course you more than occasionally have to plug in the smart variety. With Google’s Wear OS, Montblanc has clearly gone to the experts for the techy stuff and then applied their expertise in building a watch around the tech. Those traditional pushers launch apps of your choosing in a totally logical and functional way.
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45
Tag Heuer was one of the first big luxury watchmakers to embrace the idea of the smartwatch, whilst many makers saw the smart watch as the enemy. “We can’t ignore the trend,” as the brand’s then CEO Jean-Claude Biver put it when the Connected series was launched. “As a luxury brand with an ‘affordable’ entry price we could not miss the connected watch. We must adapt to tastes of a younger generation.”
Often reviewed as the best, if most expensive, Android smartwatch on the market – it’s the first smartwatch to achieve ‘Swiss made’ certification too – the Connected has a modular design, meaning there are some 4000 options of case and lug material, bezel color, strap type and so on to make the watch more your own.
Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch
“There [have been] technical challenges, explains Frederique Constant’s head of watchmaking Pim Koeslag.
“Normally, for example, connected devices are essentially plastic to assist the transmission of radio waves, and stainless steel is not so good for that. So we had to rethink the dial to allow transmission through the glass – you can’t just start using materials not associated with high-end watchmaking. The results might encourage a re-think of the watch market and what a ‘smart’ watch is.”
Although the gulf between smartwatches and what the Swiss watchmaking industry might call a ‘proper’ watch is closing, there’s still a sense that these are two distinct worlds. Frederique Constant is one of the first high-end makers to produce models that are very much classic timepieces on the outside, but – thanks to a partnership with Alpina and a Silicon Valley tech company – on the inside capable of two-way communication with a smartphone.
Although the Frederique leans toward the classic Swiss analogue with no digital interface it does still manage to convey communications from a smart phone via the analogue dials and digits. It is a stroke of genius that enables a totally classic watch appearance, but it is clumsy and rather unpractical.
I know that the site is currently low on high-end reviews, but I hope that I have given you enough information to enable you to make a more educated choice this year.
As for me, well I will continue to try to convince these high end manufacturers to release more of their fair to me for me to review.