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Analog timepieces in a digital world: check these "smarter" quartz and mechanical watches

Posted: , by Peter K.


Analog timepieces in a digital world: check these "smarter" quartz and mechanical watches

See the timepiece above? Yeah, that's not a smartwatch, but a... smarter watch. 

To be honest, smartwatches and analogue have been around for quite some time now, one more than the other, but these have rarely mixed. Yes, analogue watches are not that smart, but they have a certain undeniable charisma, and often, stylish design that complement the looks of any true gentleman or lady. In the meantime, it's hard to deny that one can only benefit from certain aspects of the modern-day smartwatch. 

But what actually happens when a maker of classic analogue chronographs decides to spice things up a bit by throwing in some smart features in any of its analogue watches? Well, this happens:


Prices: $175-$195
Check out Fossil's store

Fossil is a popular watch making company best known for its analogue timepieces, but it has already took a plunge into smartwatch land. It has a few wearables in its portfolio, and the more interesting among these are the analogue Q Grant and Q Pilot ones. These regular mechanical watch, but they have a multitude of sensors on board, as well as a relatively-bright, multi-color LED notification light at the bottom of the case. A vibration motor will also notify you about anything of import. 

Analog timepieces in a digital world: check these "smarter" quartz and mechanical watches
These Fossil watches will measure the calories you've burnt and the steps you've taken; additionally, you can set a different color for each app that is allowed to push notifications to your watch. Bluetooth 4.1 LE is used for connectivity; both iOS and Android devices can pair with the watches. There is a 27mAh battery inside Q Grand and Q Pilot, which will last for roughly 7 days. Have in mind that this battery is only powering the smart functions of the watches — they will not stop showing you the correct time, as they have quartz movement. 

Design-wise, Fossil has made its hybrid watches water-tight up to 3ATM. The 44mm round case is 15mm thick and made of stainless steel; you can pair it with any standard 22mm strap. Check the pricing and available versions below.


Prices: $169.95 - $450

Analog timepieces in a digital world: check these "smarter" quartz and mechanical watches

Withings, a relatively new French company, does not have century-old traditions in the watch-making business, but this has not prevented it from creating one of the sleeker smartwatches around. That's would be the Withings Activité, a smooth Swiss-made analogue watch that comes with sapphire glass and a French calf leather strap. There are no buttons or digital displays on the Activité: you get a handful of activity tracking sensors. These will detect whether you're running, walking, sleeping, or even swimming, and carefully send all the data to Withings' app on your phone. 

 It's important to say that all of the control of your watch is done straight from this app; you can't even change the time without it! It won't show any notifications, but at least you get a vibration motor that will gently buzz and wake you up in the morning. There's also a second dial on the watch face, which measures your progress towards your daily 10,000-steps goal. Apart from this, the Activité is a regular watch that can be used for months without needing a charge. A single CR2025 button cell will keep it tick-tocking between 6 and 8 months. 

The Activité is available in black and silver and will cost you $450. If this doesn't float your boat, you can check out the $149.95 Activité Pop and $169.95 Activité Steel, which are similar in terms of features but are not Swiss-made and don't sapphire glass.


Prices: $129 - $249

All of Martian's watches are analogue yet smart to certain extent. Unlike the previous entries in this post, Martian's watches won't track your activity, but their forte is in displaying rich notifications. Sporting secondary OLED displays with 96- by 16-pixel resolution on the watch face, these analogue watches will show you any incoming emails, text messages, social media notifications, calendar events, and lots of others. 

Analog timepieces in a digital world: check these "smarter" quartz and mechanical watches
Each is fitted with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 5 days (analogue clock one will last for around 2 years), Bluetooth 4.0 LE, an RGB LED notification light on the watch face, and a vibrating motor that will gently buzz and alert you for any pending notification. 

The anti-scratch acrylic glass functions as a button thanks to the 3-axis accelerometer on board. If you pick any of the pricier offerings of Martian, you will also be able to command you phone by voice commands, as the watches come with a mic and a small speaker. 

The analogue aspect of these is covered by analogue Japan movement and IPX-4 splash resistance. A microUSB port near the crown will enable you to charge each of the watches. Check out the available models below.


Prices: $1.399 - $2,398

Analog timepieces in a digital world: check these "smarter" quartz and mechanical watches
This is where we become serious. Watch maker Kairos has a few quite intriguing analogue watches that incorporate their smart features in rather ingenious ways. For example, the automatic Kairos Hybrid MSW115 chronograph sports a capacitive TOLED (Transparent OLED) display on top of the skeleton watch face. To be honest, the colorful UI of Kairos does not entirely suit to our liking, but anyway... It will display any text messages, emails, incoming calls, and so on. Actually, you will be able to have any push alert displayed on your watch.

There is a 160mAh battery inside the watch, which will keep the smart features on for a couple of days. As far as the analogue part, the Hybrid has an automatic Miyota Japan 82S7 movement, which means that it will wind itself as you move your hand around. The 316L stainless steel case and the crystal sapphire glass display, as well as the 3ATM IP67 water resistance complement the specs sheet.

The other Kairos watch that caught our attention is the SSW158 Chrome, which is a regular analogue watch... but with a smart strap, dubbed T-Band. Yes, its strap has a PMOLED display that enables you to receive notifications and actually use apps. There's an ARM Cortex-M4 processor and a 200mAh battery embedded in the watch case. A heartrate monitor is also embedded in the strap. The whole shebang will cost you $2,398.

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posted on 27 Mar 2016, 02:36 1

1. drunkenjay (Posts: 860; Member since: 11 Feb 2013)

used to back kairos watches long time ago until they changed the design. now it just looks like a brick.

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 02:59

2. GreenMan (Posts: 1016; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)

@phonearena I quote: "Yes, analogue watches are not that smart, but they have a certain undeniable charisma, and often, stylish design that complement the looks of any true gentleman."

Who you're kidding, PA.

The geeks who hang around here simply lacks the capacity of appreciating a mechanical clock work...

I once stated how proud I'm to have a vintage Rolex in my possession and everyone was mocking me for being too old fashioned!

Geeks will be geeks...
And fan boys will be fan boys...

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 04:01

3. MikeG77 (Posts: 401; Member since: 24 Nov 2008)

Don't mind those idiots that mocked you for having a vintage Rolex but I imagine there would be a few that could learn to appreciate a fine piece of horology. Which vintage model do you have?

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 09:51

6. willard12 (Posts: 1564; Member since: 04 Jul 2012)

Yes, this is indeed a tech site not an analog watch site. Ablogtowatch is a pretty good site for people who know the difference between quartz and mechanical movement. Or, you can just go to Cult of Mac and get mocked for telling everyone how great Windows 10 is.

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 20:52

9. S-R-K (banned) (Posts: 304; Member since: 15 Mar 2016)

And I have the Breitling crosswind .

posted on 28 Mar 2016, 01:23

13. PeterK. (Posts: 296; Member since: 13 Nov 2013)

Stick to your own style! A Rolex will be worth immensely more than an Android Wear smartwatch or an Apple Watch in the long run...

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 04:53 1

4. StreetNerd (Posts: 819; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)

I take my swiss mades over smartwatch anytime

posted on 28 Mar 2016, 00:07

11. Leo_MC (Posts: 1159; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)

When you're putting breitling next to tissot and Armani it's clear you don't have a clue about mechanical watches.

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 08:12 1

5. Ruturaj (Posts: 1294; Member since: 16 Oct 2014)

They are quartz not mechanical watches.

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 13:09

7. Augustine (Posts: 1043; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)

The Frederique Constant smartwatch should figure in this list too, joining the practicality of a connected watch and the fine materials and manufacturing of a Swiss watch: smartwatch{dot}frederiqueconstant{dot}com

posted on 27 Mar 2016, 15:04

8. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)

$1.3k for that Kairos watch? I pass.

posted on 28 Mar 2016, 00:10

12. Leo_MC (Posts: 1159; Member since: 02 Dec 2011)

Except Kairos (which means nothing in the world of watches), none of those are mechanical, only analog.

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