Don’t get us wrong — nothing will ever beat a traditional watch. From chronometers to chronographs, our first loves will always be these meticulously crafted, Swiss-made masterpieces. But, over the past few years, a new type of timepiece has ticked onto the scene; one with more functions and features than you can shake a microchip at.
The smartwatch is a thoroughly modern innovation. And, while it may never reach the sartorial heights of a dress watch, or look as good tucked under the cuff of a neatly-tailored shirt, it nevertheless has a place in the modern man’s wardrobe. From tracking your vital signs during exercise to keeping you in contact with friends, family and colleagues, your smartwatch may look like a watch — but it does a hell of a lot more than tell the time. Here are the best smartwatches to buckle up this summer.
For great value: Skagen Smartwatch HR — Falster 3
Skagen’s Falster Smartwatch has long kept its crown as the most stripped-back, calmly cool gadget on the market. This latest model boasts a swim-proof design and a range of Google-powered smart features including heart-rate tracking, Google Assistant, Google Pay and GPS.
At £279, it’s also at the lower end of the smartwatch price spectrum. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be worse off strapping the Skagen around your wrist. In fact, its enviable 24 hours of power on a single charge — to say nothing of its two additional push buttons and myriad watch faces for a personalised look — makes it a smartwatch to be reckoned with.
Skagen Smartwatch HR — Falster 3
For the classic look: Montblanc Summit 2
There are few heritage watchmakers to have digitally dabbled in the world of smartwatches. But Montblanc, the luxury German brand, is one of them. In addition to the company’s celebrated collection of automatic watches and chronographs, the Summit range offers a slick timepiece for the more technologically-minded.
This, the Summit 2, is our choice. With a brown leather strap and warmly hued stainless steel case, it has all the trappings of a traditional watch. But look closer and you’ll see that the classic dial is actually an AMOLED screen. Behind it, sensors including an altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate monitor and microphone offer all sorts of high-tech functions. This is a sophisticated piece of kit — hidden behind the straps, pushers and crowns of convention.
Montblanc Summit 2
For serious athletes and exercisers: Zepp Z
This is an interesting one. Over ten years ago, tech-meets-wellness gurus Zepp launched a unique wearable sensor device to monitor and analyse exercise data — and had athletes across the world abuzz with excitement. Over a decade down the line, the brand launched a new smartwatch; the Zepp E. They’ve since launched the Zepp Z, as well — these guys don’t mess around.
With Sp02 (blood oxygen saturation) measurement, 24/7 heart rate monitoring and 12 separate sports modes, this is truly one for athletes everywhere. And that’s without the stress level monitoring, sleep quality monitoring, a classic, stylish crown and over 50 watch faces to choose from — this truly is an individual experience, in every sense.
For constant connection: Samsung Galaxy Watch3 4G
Here’s another approach. Where Montblanc is a watch brand muscling in on the smartphone game, Samsung is a smartphone expert chancing its hand in the watch market, as we saw with the Galaxy Watch Active2. Here in the Galaxy Watch3, we have the most advanced health monitor on a Galaxy smartwatch, to say nothing of the precision rotating bezel for pinpoint-worthy app navigation; and that’s just the start.
Thinner and lighter than its predecessor, this is a watch that promises more freedom than ever. Like most smartwatches, your health is its priority; its ECG monitoring system keeps a beady eye on your heart rhythm, and it has borderline terrifying knowledge of the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. And then there’s the messaging, the calling — if you like a digital detox every now and again, this probably isn’t the smartwatch for you. You’re always connected via phone and text, thanks to the wonders of 4G; so if you leave the house without your phone, don’t fret. No one will have any trouble getting hold of you with this watch on your wrist.
Samsung Galaxy Watch3 4G
For fine watchmaking: TAG Heuer Connected
Now this: this is a smartwatch to be reckoned with. You won’t often find smartwatches connected with elegance and style; after all, they’re functional and multipurpose. They’re there to do a job and to share mind-blowingly detailed insights on the inner workings of the body. But where the TAG Heuer is concerned, we’d have to think again: because this is a smartwatch with style, there’s no doubt about it.
We’ve got our eye on the alternate finish steel case with the stainless steel bracelet; with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal and ultra-light black ceramic bezel, this is a smartwatch that’s got the ‘aesthetically pleasing’ memo (unsurprising, really, given it was inspired by the original TAG chronographs). The touchscreen is impeccable, and the battery life carries you through a full day (including an hour’s sport session) — and we’re guessing you’ve gathered from the name that its connectivity will certainly make life considerably easier. We’re talking WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 just as a start.
TAG Heuer Connected
For functionality: AlpinerX Alive
If you’ve not heard of Alpina, you’re missing out. We loved the Alpina Alpiner (no, we don’t know why they did it, either); and the AlpinerX Alive is another cut above. Like the TAG Heuer, it’s opted for a traditional calibre rather than doing away with the dial altogether; so it makes for a great stepping stone for anyone looking to ease into the digital timepiece trend.
That said, don’t underestimate its functions; the list seems to go on forever, with functional highlights including a workout with GPS tracking, a breathing exercise option and hydration insights; as well as the sleep and heart rate monitoring you’d expect from a typical high-quality smartwatch.
For an all-rounder: Apple Watch Series 6
Ah, the king of the connected watch castle. The top timepiece. The big Apple. We’ve saved the best for last because — let’s be honest — no-one does it like Apple. The years of refinement and redevelopment that have gone into the tech giant’s primary piece of wearable tech make it the unsurpassed best option. And, at £699, it’s extraordinarily good value.
From a compass to a microphone, the Series 6 covers all the basics — and does much, much more. It measures your blood oxygen (this really is the latest achievement in the smartwatch biological canon, it seems) and it comes equipped with a wireless chip, Bluetooth, magnetic charging cable, gyroscope, Apple Pay, a battery life of 18 hours and a water resistance of 50 metres. What more is there?
Apple Watch Series 6
Looking to upgrade more of your tech? Here’s why you should invest in a high-res audio player…
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