In my opinion, smartwatches are overrated. When the current dominator of the market, the Apple Watch, was released, I found some features undoubtedly appealing, but couldn’t imagine viewing photos or reading emails on a screen so small. Also, the unattractive square screen instantly diverges the gadget from the look of an analog watch, a look that I have always liked.
Considering all this, I had decided not to get a smartwatch unless one came along that really excited me, and looked really nice. Last week I was introduced to the soon-to-be-released Vector Watch. A few things instantly caught my attention and piqued my interest.
First, the watch looks like a watch. At a quick glance, it could easily be confused with an analog watch, thanks to a classic shape and a screen that stays on all the time. Instead of instantly identifying you as a future-obsessed wrist-computer wearer, Vector looks classy and decidedly non-high-tech. Second, the watch does not try to pack in too many features. Instead of jamming everything a phone can do into a watch, Vector focuses on what a watch is best suited to, and leaves out the frills.
Primarily, of course, Vector tells time. You can choose between eight or ten watch faces, easily downloadable in the companion app. All the faces imitate analog styles except for one bold digital face. Scrolling through them is as easy as pressing the up and down buttons on the watch’s side (the face is not a touch screen!). Most of the faces also leave room for additional data to be displayed. I set mine up to display the date as well as how far I’ve walked today, but you can also show weather info, calories burned, or your next meeting (it syncs with your phone calendar).
The main other purpose of the watch is to allow you to use your phone less and glance at notifications. A gentle vibration occurs any time I get a notification on my phone (you can also decide which apps alert your phone and not your watch), and I can either flick my wrist or press the main side button to view it. If I let it sit or didn’t feel the vibration, a helpful thin circle is displayed around the face to let me know I have an unread notification. This simple feature has helped me pull out my phone much less during the day. I can now tell instantly if a notification needs my attention or can be dismissed and addressed later.
In the Store section of the companion app, you can also download a few apps (really just headline notifications) from CNET, The Economist, BBC, or ESPN. Sadly these don’t function much since a headline displayed on the watch face rarely tells you much.
Here’s the real kicker: the battery lasts 30 days. Since the screen is lo-res and there are no fancy apps to use, it is very easy to completely forget about charging it. After actively using the watch for a week, the device still displayed 85% battery life, an incredible improvement over most other smartwatches. The only drawback to this is that the watch is a bit thick, likely due to the battery size. It is not too unusual for an analog watch, but it feels slightly heavy on the wrist, especially when paired with the metal band.
There are some cons of course. There are a few kinks to work out in the companion app, and the step and distance tracking seems fairly inaccurate. Also, nearly all screens we look at these days are pretty high-def so the black-and-white, extremely pixel-y watch face is a bit weird at first.
Vector will be offered in round (Luna) and rectangular (Meridien) versions, with a variety of color and band options. The company is on track to launch the product in September at a reasonable price range of $250 to $400.
I have worn a watch at various periods in my life, but for the last few years, my wrist has gone bare as I have relied on my phone to tell me the time of day. But only 24 hours into my Vector watch ownership, I was pretty sure that I would keep this device for good. The watch is perfect for those who want a good looking device that pairs easily with your phone, without frills and a plethora of apps.
Vector is primarily a very nice watch – it just happens to be smart.