The Garmin MARQ collection

MARQ integrates revolutionary technology with superior design materials such as titanium, sapphire, ceramic, diamond-like carbon coating, jacquard-weave nylon and Italian vacchetta leather. Each watch is exquisite in its execution — and as inspiring as its owner… More here.

These are expensive, but the ambition is impressive.

This review from A Blog To Watch will tell you most of what you need to know.

Like other serious technology companies such as Apple and Samsung, Garmin has not only been aggressively trying to capture a piece of the growing smartwatch market pie but is also playing catch-up to the traditional luxury watch industry. Last year, I discussed Garmin’s first serious entrance into the luxury watch space with my aBlogtoWatch review of the Garmin Fenix Chronos Smartwatch. The Fenix Chronos was built on the popular Fenix family with a more “premium” feel and packaging. Now in 2019, Garmin makes a massive leap forward with the Garmin Marq. Functionally, it builds on the Fenix family but improves upon it in most every way, including hardware, software, aesthetic design, and case/strap materials.

Wena Pro by Sony

Turn your favourite watch into a smart watch, all of the latest smart features are incorporated into the smart wena strap, giving you the perfect balance of style and convenience. Leave your bulky wallet behind thank to the contactless payment system built into the wristband. Get notifications on smartphone calls, apps and texts, all with an optional vibration mode. Monitoring your health has never been easier. Just wear your Wena wrist pro and check steps walked, calories burned, track sleep and more from a dedicated application.

Wena wrist Pro combines the beauty of analogue timepieces with the convenience of technology. Add your favourite watch face to the wena pro to create a personalised smartwatch that’s literally like no other or choose a face from the extensive wena lineup. The wena wrist pro smart strap is compatible with 18mm, 20mm and 22mm watch faces so you can truly make it your own… More here.

A good idea and I’m pleased to see a real company like Sony trying this approach. My main concern would be the quality of the fitness tracking, but time will tell.

The PowerWatch 2

Instead, the PowerWatch 2 sits in the much more niche field, a third type of smartwatch appealing to those searching for tough devices they don’t want to worry over. Among the first PowerWatch’s more avid users were ex-military and outdoorsy folk – those who enjoyed its never-dying technology yet fervently requested more features… More here.

Can’t deny the appeal of the battery, but it certainly looks chunky.

The Fitbit Charge 2 has never been beaten

The above review popped up in my Flipboard, presumably by accident because it was from 2016. However, it got me to thinking about where Fitbit is heading and more specifically about the devices that came after which I have tried over extended periods of time.

My conclusion is that the Fitbit Charge 2 was the best device when it was released and that sadly for Fitbit, it is still the best device the company has released to date.

Fitbit Ionic- it is fairly accurate and does a good job of tracking your overall fitness, but it is a carbuncle of a device and is far too big for most women to wear. It is remarkably ugly and does not suit the tastes of the majority.

Fitbit Versa- highly inaccurate and gave me at least 10-20% more steps that I had actually done. Add to this the crazy situation where floors are counted when sitting down or driving and it starts to annoy.

Fitbit Charge 3- ditto all of the problems with the Versa and the situation is made worse by Fitbit refusing to acknowledge that their newer devices have this tracking problem, particularly in regards to floors climbed.

Throw in more than occasional software glitches with the online Fitbit service and the obvious choice is to look elsewhere. Fitbit helped me a great deal while I used the companies products, but alas the reason I wear an Apple Watch now is not because it is better, it is because Fitbit got worse.

Going smart feels dumb (moving to the Apple Watch series 4)

I have been wearing a series 4 Apple Watch for the past two months and I have not worn a mechanical timepiece since. It feels wrong, I feel like a fraud and the overwhelming sense that I am giving something special up does not leave me.

My passion for watches is not logical, it never is for anyone who sees what I do in the designs and mechanics of such objects, but it is most certainly present and is hard to ignore. Ask anyone who loves watches and they will give you many reasons for their passion, but none of these will make practical sense and very few can be evidenced, and this is why it is a passion for people like me. You don’t give a practical reason for loving your spouse or your children. You just do because, well, it comes from somewhere within and you just love them.

When I see a watch that speaks to me I can never explain why that is, but it does happen often which makes the notion of wearing a smartwatch so bizarre. A computer chip in a square piece of metal with no soul, no unique design traits and so common that you see it everywhere. It is the anti-watch to those who love real watches and it could surely not replace an object crafted by hand over time.

Well, it seems to have happened to me and it would appear that logic has beaten away the passion.

Perhaps this is why I am struggling with the notion of this change because logic is not as exciting as passion, it is just there being all logical and boring. In this case it is the process of buying an object to do a job and then having it do that job every day to an acceptable level. There becomes a sense of attachment because some features become habitual, but rarely do emotions come to the surface in those little moments when you need to simply check the time. There is no history, no sense of the experienced experts behind the watch, which you do get with new watches as well, and no emotional depth in a form which looks and feels factory made.

The problem with the above is that they are issues faced by those of us who like mechanical, and maybe vintage, watches. For the rest of the world they are not problems and instead advantages are overwhelmingly experienced. Apple’s brilliant strap changing system is a revelation in an industry that has relied on steel pin bars for a century. The way watchOS works is as buttery smooth as iOS and it comes together to slowly creep in to your life at the exact moments it is supposed to. If you are using your iPhone the notifications will not appear on your watch. If you are not using your iPhone they will. It’s so subtle as to not be noticeable, but it makes a difference. If I am wearing my Apple Watch my Mac will not require a password and it comes together to ensure that I miss nothing without it ever feeling intrusive. It is a difficult balance to strike, but Apple seems to have done that which is highly appealing for those who want technology to be a positive influence, which I guess is +99% of people.

Is the Apple Watch actually a watch? To many people it isn’t, but that is incorrect. It is no less of a watch than a Casio quartz model or an automatic Grand Seiko. In the real world if it is strapped to your wrist and it can tell the time it is a watch. An iPhone is no less of a phone than the one that is wired to a socket in your house (if you still have such a thing), it is just a more modern interpretation of the phone just as a smartwatch is a modern interpretation of a classic mechanical object.

It is only if you force yourself to wear the Apple Watch for a period of time that you begin to use it as a watch should be used. Of course there are the countless notifications, if you have not disabled the ones you do not really need, the fitness tracking and useful reminders on the small screen and the occasional app that offers a useful facility. Much has been written about the lack of apps available and the big names that have removed their Apple Watch apps, but this is absolutely not a problem. For a smartwatch to be useful without being overwhelming it needs to do certain things very well and to not overreach. Some wearOS watches overreach in every area and end up feeling like computers on the wrist which is not the way to pull watch purists over the fence. The Apple Watch, and in particular the series 4, appears to have accidentally struck a balance that works just about well enough to satisfy what people like me want.

Is it just a fancy fitness tracker?

The more I think about it, the more I realise that fitness is by far the most dominant use for me when it comes to the Apple Watch. I track my sleep with it, which does not work as well as a Fitbit in this area, I track my calories expended, my workouts, my steps, my calories eaten and it all comes together to help me improve my activity and thus lessen my weight and get fitter. For someone who topped the scales at 295lbs 18 months ago and who is now at 195lbs, it is difficult to ever consider going back, and I am someone who needs a tool to keep me motivated.

After multiple missteps with Fitbit (inaccurate tracking, software instability etc) and Garmin (good hardware, but not great software) I eventually discovered that the Apple Watch hardware is the most accurate and that the ‘rings’ system does actually work in the moment and over extended periods. Because of this it has become the one tracker I use for fitness and it is helping me reach a level of fitness I had given up on many years ago – surely that is more important than having a fancy well-made mechanical timepiece on my wrist? Again, logic over emotion.

The real problem with it being my main tracker is that I have to wear it all of the time. It is not something to wear just when working out because that defeats the object of using it for serious fitness and there is the main issue if you enjoy traditional watches.

Why not both wrists?

This is the dichotomy that afflicts those of us who want to wear a watch and a smartwatch. It, for whatever reason, feels ridiculous and close to socially unacceptable to wear both. You can get away with a fitness tracker on one wrist and a watch on the other, but not the former and that is proof that the Apple Watch is a watch after all. You should not wear two watches in 2018 and I can’t see a year in the future where that will become commonplace. I can, however, see a year where the traditional watch is a rarity and that is a real shame, but I am not exactly helping that situation.

It is still a watch

I feel like I am losing a lot by moving away from a traditional mechanical watch, but in the face of the following advantages I am struggling to see me going back-

  • Fitness and sleep tracking day after day and all of the benefits that offers.
  • Money saved because you can never have the perfect mechanical watch and thus you always end up with more than one.
  • A free wrist without the need for a fitness tracker on the other one.
  • Notifications are never missed, I can leave home without my phone and still be contactable, and I can change the look (strap) in seconds.

I am now sold on the series 4 Apple Watch and remain shocked that this happened, but I’m maybe not so sad about it after all.

Apple Watch apps don’t really matter

This new list of the most useful Apple Watch apps seems familiar somehow. And so does this one. And indeed so does any other list of the ‘best’ Apple Watch apps.

The fact is that there are very few Apple Watch apps that are genuinely useful and which work in a way that makes them not feel clunky. Just look at the apps listings in the Watch app, it never changes. The iOS App Store changes daily, but on the watch side it stays the same.

Strangely, it doesn’t matter because the fact is that watch apps are not needed and for most people there are already enough built in to the Apple Watch, and this gives a lie to the notion that smartwatches will one day replace phones.

I can now understand what the Apple Watch offers and have been impressed by its ability to cover fitness, keep me notified and to obviously tell the time. I have, however, found a small group of third-party apps that work well for me including Streaks, SleepWatch and Better Day. I don’t need any more and probably won’t in the future unless a developer comes out with something special.

So. the lack of apps is on the surface a huge disadvantage for the Apple Watch, but is to those who own one completely inconsequential. 

BentoStack Charge

BentoStack is back, and this time it’s bringing wireless charging to your workspace. Inspired by the modern Japanese lunchbox, the BentoStack Charge is a delightful storage case designed specifically to hold Apple accessories and keep them energized when you’re out and about. With a Qi-certified wireless charger and 5,000 mAh battery built into the Top Cover, you can keep your iPhone, Apple Watch, and the like powered up without hunting for an outlet. Bring the whole box when you’re traveling around or just take the Top Cover for a quick jolt on the go… More here.

Sometimes it is the design that makes a product.

14 days…

According to Wisebuy, the Watch GT was developed under the codename Fortuna, and features a circular 1.4-inch AMOLED screen with 454 by 454 resolution, plus a 420mAh battery. A marketing document leaked to Slashleaks claims that the watch will offer 14 days of continuous use at maximum, 7 days of use when its screen is in Always On mode, and 20 hours if its built-in GPS chip is active… More here.

Are you listening Apple? 14 days of power from a smartwatch with sleep tracking and a heart rate monitor.