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On the Latest in Smartwatches
If you’re interested in smartwatches, Hugo Boss might not be the first company that comes to mind. In fact, it wasn’t all that long ago that you wouldn’t have thought about Hugo Boss if you were thinking about any kind of watch.
The German company got their start after World War I and they were in the business of selling clothing for men. They still do that, but at some point, they decided that accessories to go along with the clothing might be a good idea. With that in mind, they began making watches.
Their watches have changed a bit over the years, and these days, they’ve found a nice little niche in the fashion watch market. Their timepieces are of high quality, but feature neither cutting-edge design or cutting-edge features. That’s not to diminish their stature; they just let other people work the fringe while they are happy to make an attractive, fashionable watch that sells for relatively modest ($150-$1000, for the most part) prices as fashion watches go.
Their watches are all quartz powered, too, so you’re not going to find a lot of mechanical complications or anything. As we said, Hugo Boss watches offer a solid watch that looks good, is reasonably priced and is likely to serve you well for a long time. Are Hugo Boss watches good? Yes, they are, but until now, they’ve offered little to interest the smartwatch buyer.
So why are we writing about Hugo Boss watches here? Because, believe it or not, there is now such a thing as a Hugo Boss smartwatch. Lots of other watchmakers are sitting on the sidelines, waiting to see what the market is going to do for these new “gadgets,” but Hugo Boss has jumped in and started selling a smartwatch.
At least, that’s what they call it. The Hugo Boss smartwatch has that name, but really, it’s best described as a hybrid. That’s because it’s basically a quartz watch that also has some features that you’ll certainly welcome if you’re a fan of smartwatches.
You get the same great looks that you’ll always get with a Hugo Boss watch, but with the smartwatch, you’ll also get a few new features that you’ll welcome if you’re a smartphone owner:
- Setting preferences with a custom BOSS app
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Up to 5 days on a single charge
- World clock
- Notifications for social media, incoming calls, activity goals, and texts via display and vibration
You’ll also find a great looking watch with a stainless steel case, a “croc-embossed” leather strap, and surprisingly good (33 meters) water resistance. That’s not a feature we’ve seen in a lot of smartwatches, most of which should be kept well away from water. The Hugo Boss smartwatch also comes with a 2 year warranty, though the way the market moves, the watch will likely be completely obsolete (as a smartwatch) by then.
It will still be a great looking watch, though, and that’s one place where Hugo Boss watches really shine. You also won’t have to break the bank to buy the thing, as the Hugo Boss smartwatch has a suggested retail price of $325 or so.
This week, Apple had one of their semi-regular Big Events to announce several new products. The one that’s getting most of the press is the iPhone X, which is largely getting notice because of its $1000+ price tag. Yes, the day when people can, and will, pay a thousand dollars for a telephone has apparently arrived.
Receiving a bit less notice, however, was the introduction of the latest iteration of the Apple Watch. Given the name of Apple Watch 3, this new version of the fairly popular wearable actually has some noteworthy features.
It’s not a ground-up redesign by any means; the Apple Watch 3 looks a lot, no, it looks virtually identical, to its predecessor. The one thing that will give it away, for whatever that’s worth, is the red button on the crown.
What is noteworthy about the new Apple Watch is the fact that it is now LTE enabled. That means that you will be able to dial and receive phone calls directly from the watch without having to have an iPhone on your person. It’s a telephone-as-a-watch. As others have pointed out, we’ve finally gotten the wrist radio that Dick Tracy was wearing back in the 1940s.
Apple claims that the new chip used in the Apple Watch 3 is both faster and more power efficient than the one used in its predecessor, so they’re claiming up to 18 hours of use without having to recharge it. Cell phone circuitry tends to draw a lot of power, especially if you’re in an area with limited range.
The new watch features a barimetric altimeter, and apparently has the ability to detect if your heart rate is abnormally fast, as it might be when you’re having a heart problem. If it’s beating too quickly and you’re not in the process of exercising, the watch will let you know.
You still can’t get rid of your iPhone just yet, however. While the Apple Watch 3 will let you make phone calls and receive them without having a phone handy, the watch does have some limitations. It can’t sync without an iPhone and it can’t load apps without an iPhone. That means you’ll still have to have another expensive Apple gadget to go with this one.
Furthermore, you might have to upgrade that iPhone to use the Apple Watch 3. The new watch, which is available either with or without LTE connectivity, will not work with any version of the iPhone prior to iPhone 6. The older watches will, but if you want the new one and you have an older phone, you’re going to have to buy a phone and a watch.
While the new versions of the iPhone are getting press for being pricey, the Apple Watch 3 is somewhat more affordable. The LTE-enabled version is going to retail for $399. The non-LTE version of the phone will sell for somewhat less, at $329.
Now we just wish that they’d redesign the form factor. In our book, the Apple Watch in all of its variations is one of the less attractive smartwatches out there.
It has taken a while for the smatwatch to take off in the marketplace. Part of that has to do with function; most of them are still tied to a smartphone, and if you have to have one device to make the other one work, then why carry two? Furthermore, many early smartwatches were big, clumsy, and unattractive.
Over time, however, smartwatches are becoming smaller, better looking, and more functional. Apple will reportedly introduce a watch soon that will be able to make and receive calls without a smartphone, and that could be a game changer. While a lot of watch companies are taking a wait and see approach to smartwatches, many fashion companies, such as Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors, are jumping in with stylish offerings.
The people who are getting left out in the cold here are the companies who make fitness only wearables. These are devices, such as the Fitbit, that keep track of your fitness stats and heart rate without being capable of running third party apps. While many of the fashion watches coming to market (such as the Michael Kors) do not offer fitness features, they do have the ability to run other apps, which at the moment, seems to be more important to buyers than the fitness features.
The biggest selling smartwatches seem to be the ones that offer both apps and fitness features, but fitness-only seems to be on its way out. That’s not true of smartwatches, however. Sales were up some 60% in the second quarter of this year over the same period last year, so that’s a pretty significant uptick in smartwatch sales.
Fitness-only devices, however, have seen sales continuously decline over the past year, which is likely part of the reason by Fitbit will soon be introducing their own smartwatch.
The leader in sales at this point is Xiaomi, which is a Chinese company that is not particularly well known outside of China. On the other hand, with a billion people living there, China is a pretty significant market. Overall, Xiaomi has a 13.4% market share right now, which puts them just ahead of Apple.
The new Michael Kors models, on the other hand, are going to be niche sellers. They’re largely fashion watches, and don’t have fitness tracking capabilities. The company has two models, the Grayson and the Sofie, and they appear to be tailored towards men and women, respectively. They’re sold with metal bracelets and optional leather straps and are clearly targeting people who’d like to have an attractive watch on their wrists that can offer some capabilities beyond the ability to tell time.
As the starting price for both watches is in the $350 range, they’re not necessarily for tire kickers or people who aren’t sure if they’re ready for or interested in a smartwatch, but if you think it’s for you and you want something that looks attractive, rather than something that looks like somebody stuck a box on your wrist, the Michael Kors smartwatches might be a good way to go.
Lots of companies are entering the smartwatch market, but it’s worth noting that a lot of the companies that are doing so are not companies that primarily make watches. Companies such as Apple and Garmin are known for other things, but no one thinks “watches!” when they hear those names. Most watch companies are taking a wait and see attitude, or perhaps creating hybrid watches that offer a bit of high tech along with a traditional timepiece.
That’s why it’s interesting to see Movado Connect, a proper smartwatch from a company that is best known for making proper watches. Granted, most of Movado’s line consists of quartz watches, but they do have a few automatic models in their lineup. They’ve also strayed a bit from their classic minimalist design, having added colors and overall busy-ness to their watches in the past few years.
It must be working, as they are running lots of ads and their newer models seem to be popular. We like the brand, and we both own classic “minimalist” Movado watches. There’s something appealing about their simplicity of appearance.
You can have that with Movado Connect, at least if you want to. That’s the thing – the watch comes with 100 possible face designs, so you can pretty much have it look like whatever you’d like it to look like, including that classic, “not much there” look that made the company’s watches famous.
The Movado Connect is powered by Android 2.0, and they claim that it’s compatible with Android or iOS phones. You get an AMOLED screen with 400×400 resolution, and the processor is the popular Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100.
The watch recharges from dead in 2 hours, and is said to have a battery life of roughly 1 day of typical usage. Built in sensors include an accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone, and an ambient light sensor.
Storage is 4 GB, and it offers Bluetooth and WIFI connectivity.
While you can change the watch face, you can’t change the watch itself. For that, you’ll need to get another watch, but you can do that, as Movado Connect is currently available in four slightly different models. The difference is in the bracelet and case, giving you options of a silver look, a black look, a gold look and a slightly different black look.
OK, so they don’t have 50 different models yet. We’re sure they’re working on it.
In the meantime, you’ll get all of the other features that you’ll regularly see with a watch that’s powered by Android Wear 2.0. You’ll be able to do some fitness tracking and you’ll be able to check on your messages, and so forth.
What you get here that you don’t get with other smartwatches is those clean, good looks that come with Movado watches. Let’s face it – right now, lots of smartwatches are still pretty ugly, as everyone struggles to figure out what they should look like and what they should do. Movado thinks that they should look like a Movado, and that’s a good start.
They’re nice looking watches. They’re not cheap; Movado Connect will set you back anywhere from $595 to $950, depending on the model. But at the end of the day, it’s a Movado, and you’ll look cool wearing it. At present, Movado Connect is only available at the company’s Website.
Buying a smartwatch is, in many ways, not much different from buying any other electronic device. You need to decide what features you need, how much you want to pay, and where you want to buy it.
There are some other factors that you need to consider before buying a smartwatch, however. Otherwise, you are going to find yourself with a watch you don’t use, a watch you can’t use, or a watch that doesn’t work well for your intended use.
Here are a few things that you should consider before you buy a smartwatch:
- Is it compatible with your phone? Most smartwatches sold today are compatible with both the iPhone and Android models. The Apple Watch is an exception, of course, as that watch only works with the iPhone. Most other models advertise that they will work with either the iPhone or Android, but that does not mean that they will work equally well with either one. Often, Android-based smartwatches will offer more features to users of Android phones than they will to users of the iPhone. Be sure to check on this before you buy, or you may find yourself with limited use of your watch.
- Do you exercise? While many smartwatches offer sensors and apps to keep track of your exercise, not all of them do and those that do don’t all do it equally well. A watch from Fitbit, for example, is designed around such use, but a watch from Louis Vuitton, which may offer such features, might not be the best choice if you’re a marathon runner.
- Battery life is a big deal. Smartwatches consume power like there’s no tomorrow, but some run longer than others before needing a recharge. If you want a watch that you can wear all day, you need to shop for a watch that you can wear all day. Battery life varies dramatically from one smartwatch to another, so be sure to check before you buy.
- Buy a smartwatch that displays the time, all the time. What? Isn’t the point of a watch to show you the time? Yes, but some newer models turn off the display after a certain amount of time as a power saving measure. That’s great for saving power, but what about the time? You know – the primary thing that a watch is supposed to do? This is another feature worth asking about…if you always want access to the time.
- App selection. Apps are important, but they’re not as important as you might think. There are far more apps available for the Apple Watch than for Android models, but studies show that the majority of smartwatch owners aren’t really making much use of apps on their watches. They’re mostly using them for checking their texts and email, and doing less with the apps. This may change, but if you’re all about apps, you might want to go with the Apple.
These are some suggestions for things that you should consider if you are buying a smartwatch today. Keep in mind that the market for these timepieces is still fairly new and that new models and new features are coming out all the time. Smartwatches are likely to be vastly different five years from now, but right now, compatibility and battery life are probably the most important considerations when buying a smartwatch.
When the smartwatch was introduced a few years ago, companies thought we were going to see a new innovation in computing technology. They even came up with a term – “wearable,” that suggested that people were soon going to be wearing their computers on their wrists or elsewhere, rather than carrying them around with them.
That hasn’t exactly worked out, and right now, companies are trying to figure out exactly what it is that consumers want in a smartwatch. The Apple watch has been a moderate success, though they’ve pulled their $10,000+ high end model from the market. The only other high end smartwatch we’ve heard about is the one from Louis Vuitton, which sells for close to $3000. That seems more like a vanity product than one that the company expects to become a big seller.
The Apple watch has sold OK, but sales are down a bit as the product line is now somewhat aged. People are anxiously awaiting the new third generation models, which are rumored to include the ability to send and receive phone calls without the need to have a phone nearby.
In the meantime, sales of the Apple Watch have been overtaken by two other companies – Fitbit and Xiaomi.
Fitbit makes inexpensive smartwatches that are geared towards, as the name would suggest, fitness tracking. Xiaomi watches are largely Apple knockoffs, produced by a Chinese manufacturer looking to sell a bunch of watches at a low price.
What’s missing from the big sales? Any company making a smartwatch that people are actually using as a portable computer.
Smartwatches were introduced as revolutionary devices that people would use like they would a smartphone or tablet. You’d wear the watch, and you’d install apps on it that you could use to do whatever it is you typically use apps to do. Unfortunately, and perhaps inevitably, smartwatches don’t seem to be particularly well-suited to that task.
That makes sense, really. Smartwatches have very tiny screens. Most of them are round, as the makers want them to look like what people would expect a watch to look like. The few square or rectangular models just shout “the person wearing this is a geek!” and that’s not good for sales. Additionally, most smartwatches lack the controls or the room for touchscreen commands that make using tablets or smartphones easy to do.
The bottom line is that smartwatches are simply ill-suited to running complex apps, though they’re well-suited to running the sorts of apps that Fitbit and Xiaomi are running -those devoted to fitness.
In the meantime, the pricing of smartwatches seems to be getting lower, as companies that were trying to make mid-priced units that were highly functional are abandoning the market and leaving it to the makers of cheap fitness watches.
The next Apple Watch may change that, and lots of people are hoping that it will. Not just because they’re hoping that the Apple Watch will bring about new features or technology, but also because it may inspire other makers to come up with better ideas, too.
In the meantime, the smartwatch market seems to be in a tailspin.
Smartwatches have sold reasonably well, but one of the drawbacks to having one is that you also have to have a smartphone nearby. The watches piggyback on the capabilities of the smartphone, but don’t have full standalone functionality.
Your watch doesn’t have a GPS, for instance, but your smartphone does, so your watch can talk to the phone while you’re working out to keep track of where you’ve been.
The problem is that it isn’t always convenient to have your phone with you. Yet you need that for certain exercise functions and to keep track of your text messages and to handle your music.
That may change soon, as Bloomberg is reporting that the next iteration of the Apple Watch may include an LTE modem. This would allow the smartwatches to act more like standalone smartphones and would include, at least in some models, the ability to make phone calls without having to have a smartphone nearby. Apple hopes to introduce these new smartwatches by the end of the year.
The ability to sever the ties between a smartphone and a smartwatch would be huge. While people like their smartphones, they’ve been getting bigger over the years and there are times, such as when you are working out, that lugging a large phone around with you may not be exactly what you want to do. This is also a huge win for Intel, as they have reportedly received the contract for the LTE chips that will make these watches work more like phones.
That’s the good news. The bad news, of course, is that no one is really certain when these watches will come to the market. The other bad news is that Apple hasn’t yet entirely resolved the battery problem that plagues all smartwatches. People with traditional watches with quartz movements replace their batteries every couple of years. If you have an Apple Watch, you’ll likely have to charge it once a day.
A watch that is also more or less a fully functional phone is likely to consume even more power than existing models, thus creating a larger burden for owners. You want to wear your watch; you don’t want to spend all day waiting for it to charge.
In time, these problems will likely be worked out. At least one company, for example, as already introduced a self-charging smartwatch. While Apple hasn’t yet indicated that they’re working on something like that, it seems inevitable that they’re going to have to come up with something soon. If your watch runs down after a couple of hours, you’re not going to want to wear it.
Analysts expect the standalone Apple Watch to be a “game changer,” and one that will likely motivate many existing owners to upgrade and many new customers who have been on the fence about buying a smartwatch to jump in and buy one.
No further details are available right now, but it should be interesting to see if this forthcoming standalone Apple Watch works as promised.
Smartwatches are useful tools, but like their cousins, the smartphone, they rely on a lot of power. Most battery operated watches can run for years on a single battery, but a heavily used smartwatch can run out of power in less than a day.
A watch that you can’t wear because you’re charging it is not a very useful tool. What’s the point of even owning one if you can’t wear it when you want to wear it or use it when you want to use it?
You could build a smartwatch that would run for a week or a month on a charge, but it might be the size of a brick. That wouldn’t be practical for anyone.
A Swiss company is trying to solve that problem with their newly-introduced smartwatch called Sequent. Sequent takes a cue from technology that has long been available in mechanical watches – the self-winding movement. What Sequent is attempting to do is create a similar device inside their watch – a rotating weight, or rotor, that moves when the wearer moves. That rotor can be used to power a small generator, and that generator can be used to charge the battery inside the watch.
The result is a smartwatch that charges itself, meaning you can wear it all day, every day, and as long as you are active, the watch will remain powered. Furthermore, the watch face has a power indicator on it that shows you exactly how much power you have remaining.
As an added bonus, due to the nature of how the charging mechanism works, the more you move, such as when you are exercising, the faster the watch will charge.
All of this would be wasted, however, if the Sequent were just another “me too!” smartwatch. But this one was built from the ground up with both features and style in mind, and the result is an attractive timepiece that also has the ability to do all of the things that make a smartwatch interesting – control your music, alert you when you’re receiving a text or email message, and monitoring all of your vital signs when you’re exercising.
This idea must have struck a lot of people as a good one, because the Sequent was funded through Kickstarter, and so far, the funding has reached more than ten times the amount of money the company was seeking through the crowdfunding site.
At the moment, people have pledged nearly $1 million dollars for this watch, and as a result, the company has added a number of new features, including additional styling options. At the moment, the watch is still in the prototype stage, but the company expects to ship the finished watches by the end of the year.
This looks like a very big deal for the smartwatch industry, which is still learning about which features people want, which features are a waste of time, and which features can be provided without running the battery dead within an hour of putting the watch on your wrist.
In time, we may see this feature included in most smartwatches. For now, the Sequent has this amazing feature all to itself. Pricing starts at just $199. You can learn more about the Sequent here.
Smartwatches have become fairly big sellers, but not everyone has been sold on them, so to speak. Some people have issues with their looks. Others have issues with the fact that, like your smartphone, they need to be charged regularly.
There are probably a number of other reasons why people have not fully embraced smartwatches, and that’s easy to understand. It’s new technology, and it can take a while for both manufacturers and consumers to figure out what sort of product, designs, and price points work best for everyone.
Because of this, some manufacturers of watches have shied away from smartwatches, taking a “wait and see” attitude. They’ll wait for the market to sort itself out, and then they’ll bring a product to market, hoping to minimize their likelihood of having the product fail in the marketplace.
There is a compromise, however, and a few companies have decided to go that route – the hybrid watch. A hybrid watch is one that offers features of both traditional watches and smartwatches, without fully being either one. A good example of hybrid watches is the new Signatur line from Danish watch maker Skagen.
The Signatur watches look like the other watches in the Skagen line. They have clean lines and simple, elegant looks. They’re also offered at a nice price point, making them affordable for nearly everyone. What makes them a hybrid? The watch looks like a traditional wristwatch, with an analog display and regular hands. But the watch can sync with your smartphone.
The Signatur watch can set itself automatically by talking to your phone. In fact, you cannot manually set the time on the watch. Instead, you install the Skagen app on your phone and set that up, which just takes a few minutes. From there, your phone will set the time of the watch automatically.
Your watch can notify you if you have any incoming text messages, either by moving the hands on the watch or by vibrating. It can also keep track of your steps, though not your heart rate, while you’re working out.
The watch has a built in “phone finder” feature in case you misplace your phone. A sleep tracker keeps track of how well you are sleeping. The watch also has music control and camera control.
Aside from that, it looks like a watch and has no other “smart” functions. One other odd feature in this hybrid watch – the battery is not rechargeable. The battery is user replaceable, however, and will need to be replaced every four to six months. That’s a long time for a battery to last.
The best part might be the price. Pricing for the Signatur line of hybrid watches from Skagen ranges from $175 to $195, which is a bit more than you’ll pay for most of their traditional watches, but is still fairly reasonable. You get the same good looks that you’ll find in the rest of their watches, and you won’t get strange looks from people who think your watch is “weird.”
If you’re not quite ready for a smartwatch, a hybrid watch might be a good alternative. You can find the Signatur watches at the Skagen Website.
Smartwatches have a lot of useful features that make life easier. Few people would dispute that. You can check your email, read text messages and answer phone calls all on a device that fits on your wrist. If you like working out, you’ll also have the ability to monitor your fitness progress while working out, using the same watch that you use to answer the phone.
That’s great. But what if you have an “old school” watch that just tells time? We’re not here to knock traditional watches; they’re great, for what they are. But they aren’t going to help you keep track of your heart rate while you’re exercising, and you do exercise, right?
There is a solution, and it’s not “buy a second watch.” That’s not a bad idea, though, and lots of people who own one watch actually own more than one. For a lot of people, a watch is a fashion accessory.
That’s not the solution we have in mind, though. In this case, it’s a cool little gadget that can “sort of” turn your traditional watch, in fact, any tradition watch, into a smartwatch. It’s called the Smart Buckle.
The Smart Buckle is a buckle that you can attach to the watch strap of your choice that has some gadgetry built into it. By tapping the buckle, you can interface with your smartphone and use the smartbuckle to keep track of your heartrate and more. It’s waterproof and dustproof and shockproof, within reason, of course.
It’s also been tested to fit more than 500 brands of watches.
The Smart Buckle is intuitive; it knows how to keep track of actual, meaningful movement, while disregarding odd movements, such as the wave of an arm. It also keeps track of your sleep patterns so that you can learn how to get a more restful night’s sleep.
It’s compatible with iOS and Android, as most smart devices are. The Smart Buckle can run up to 7 days without a charge, though if it needs one, it fully recharges in just two hours. It can also store up to 15 days worth of data before overwriting what’s already there.
The Smart Buckle will not turn your Tag Heuer into a full-fledged smartwatch. You aren’t going to have the ability to answer the phone or send or receive text messages. That’s not what it’s about. What the Smart Buckle is about is adding a fitness tracker to any watch you like so that you don’t have to buy another expensive watch just for that purpose. Since most people don’t carry watches with them, that makes the Smart Buckle a handy, money saving device that most people will likely find to be a worthwhile purchase.
And worthwhile it is, especially at the price. Believe it or not, the Smart Buckle is priced at just $49 through the official Smart Buckle Website.
We like smartwatches. We think they’re useful and handy to have around. But we also understand that a lot of people still like traditional wristwatches and that there’s a time and a place to wear them. Sometimes, the places where you’d wear a regular watch intersect with the places where you should have a smartwatch.
The Smart Buckle is the tool to have in those situations.