Smart Vector – brief look (1)

Another Smart watch but this time connects to the phone operating systems of Android, Windows, including iPhone.  Smart use of monochrome LCD displays means longer battery life at around 30 days – with charge point at rear.  Classic watch look in a decent steel case at a sensible size, conventional strap/bracelet fitting and with a good clear non touch screen face.  Operated by use of the conventional watch pushers – looks good too.  Does the smart basics and is more costs effective than many of the big mainstream boys – so this is good news.

Vector Luna Smart watch with classic dial layout

Vector Luna Smart watch with classic dial layout

Supposed to be available soon at around $349 or thereabouts and there’s also a square version, the “Meridian”.  I prefer the strap version on the Luna above and the fact you can change to a different color strap can really show the watch off to best advantage.

Definitely going in the right direction and good to see a non Apple product with such a sensible approach.  Hopefully this is only the start.

 

Autodromo Stradale

The most stylish and refreshingly “wow factor” model I’ve seen from this new Brand, which once again is inspired by the 1950’s Italian roadster racing cars and in this particular color combination is my favorite model.

The fabulous Autodromo Stradale

The fabulous Autodromo Stradale

Unlike the last model, the Monoposto which sported a Meca-Quartz hybrid design movement, this is a full mechanical automatic, the Miyota 9015, which I have always reckoned a very good movement indeed.  It has useful features such as – seconds hacking,  24 jewels,  quick date correction, second hand reset and good shock resistance.  I also prefer the styling of this model, though I personally love every model that Officine Autodromo have produced so far.  I understand the Brooklyn based Company was founded in 2010 and the first models launched in 2011 by designer (industrial) Bradley Price and there are some designers I reckon – and he is one of them.

Exhibition back view of the Miyota 9015 Automatic

Exhibition back view of the Miyota 9015 Automatic

The Stradale is a really stylish and beautifully finished model with Sapphire Crystal and is a neat size at 40mm diameter by only 10.8mm depth.   The “floating” appearance of the K1 glass numerals disc gives the dial a subtle “depth” and clarity.   And the slightly eccentric vintage position of the wire attached lugs being low on the case, give the watch a real stand out look on the wrist and coupled with the 18mm padded leather strap is just perfect.

Best described by simply seeing it’s picture.

It’s really nice to see a watch a million miles away from the macho, high tech look of the ubiquitous “military” style shock this and shock that, which seem to dominate the market today.  I know as I have plenty of them!  But this – is something rather special.

Wow!  I think I MUST have one!   (at around $75o (£550) – it’s a lovely thing) . . . .  😉

Something different (1)

Always on the lookout for “something different” and this week it’s the turn of two rather standout models from Android.

The first one is the rather unique “Rotator” 50 Auto AD739BKR, which as you see wears it’s rotor on the outside and pretty stunning it is too.   Every turn of the wrist sets the brightly red colored Rotor spinning around the gray dial and the broad Hour and Minute hands are infilled with Superluminova.

Android Rotator 50 Automatic AD739BKR

Android Rotator 50 Automatic AD739BKR

The large 50mm diameter watch case is of IP coated brushed stainless steel with a Japanese SII NH35 automatic 24 jewel movement.  The crystal is hardened mineral and screw down crown means a 10ATM 100m Water resistance.

Android Impetus Double Escapement

Android Impetus Double Escapement

The second model from Android is just about as stunning as the first choice, which is the “Impetus” Double escapement Automatic AD546AS, which being part skeleton has a similar “mobile” feature which is quite eye catching.   Smaller case this time at 41mm diameter (mid size) with mineral crystal and a genuine Lizard strap with push/pull clasp buckle band.   This model features the Shanghai SHS Automatic 21600, 40 jewel movement.

No doubt that Android produce some interesting models and I particularly like the ones that feature “movement” which certainly gives added interest to what can often be a dull business of telling the time.   The gold colored escapement wheels once again give this model a real “visual” something different, which lifts it above the normal.

Band Genuine Lizard Movement Shanghai SHS-05 automatic 21600 vph 40 jewels movement Crystal Mineral Crown Push/Pull Clasp Buckle Band Measurements 9.5″L x 22mm Case Measurements 41mm Water Resistance Function – See more at: http://www.android-usa.com/product-p/

Playtime – P01TIME Watch

Always nice to see models appearing that are NOT from the big 4 or mainstream digital manufacturers, that maybe are fashion statements or watches to compliment their particular area of interest.

P01TIME from Playtime Japan.

P01TIME from Playtime Japan.

The P01TIME is one such brand, launched by Japanese snowboarding company Playdesign.  This model is from their 3rd collection and called Super Digital which has a IP coated 46mm diameter stainless steel case, mineral crystal, Water Resistance of 3ATM  and nylon strap and available in a range of color combinations.

Various color combinations

Various color combinations

No details I’m afraid, as I just spotted it and haven’t managed to access any real technical information on these, but they obviously appear to have the Time, Day, Date and possibly a Chronograph and or timer.  Not so obviously they could have either a 2nd time zone or even a World Time feature as they are showing TKO in pace of the Day on the images shown here.

I particularly like the large digital Time display, which appears on first looks to have great clarity and I also just like the look of the watch – sort of military sporty and pretty rugged too.  My color of choice is actually the plain version as shown on the larger image.

I also like the fact that many of these “fashion” or accessory models today are of much better quality than hitherto and not just “throwaway” items, but often serious timepieces in their own right.

However as to the P01TIME (3rd Collection) I somehow doubt we’ll ever see it here in the UK, though it appears well stocked by domestic Dealers in Japan.   So if of interest, maybe a trip to Japan or a virtual Internet Dealer such as http://www.branc-store.com/?pid=64908558 is the only answer.   Priced at 12,96YEN this is the equivalent of around £76 UK plus any mail/customs charges and IF they deliver to the UK.

However if you can get one – you could well have a model on your wrist that your friends won’t have!  Is that cool or what!

Any time, anywhere . . .

This seems to be the big thing for 2014, certainly from the big 3 makers, Seiko, Citizen and Casio who have invested heavily in this GPS accurate world time idea.   From older ideas back in 2011, they are now really starting to make models that are no longer experimental/gimmicky, but real contenders for “the watch” or certainly the most accurate watch for anytime, anyone and anywhere.

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F100

Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave F100

My preference is for the Citizen as it’s the most uncluttered dial, the easiest to see and without doubt the best clarity of them all.  It’s also light titanium cased and banded and for a model of this complication, very thin at 12.4mm depth.   The diameter isn’t too bad either at 45.4mm, though folks with an average wrist size of 165mm might find it on the limits from lug to lug, but probably manageable.

It also scores over the competition as it has a remarkable signal pick up time of just 3 seconds and will indicate the correct time in any of the 40 times zones on the planet.  It’s also very accurate with the new F100 caliber at +/- 5 seconds/month without a signal.  Being Eco-Drive of course you can forget any battery issues and the light/power conversion is better than ever and the power reserve is pretty awesome at 7 years in the dark in a drawer!

The final plus for me – it’s at a price point that’s not totally unreachable at around £1300 UK or less and it’s expected sometime this summer.

Tissot – a light touch!

And about time I’d say – Tissot at last updates it’s “Touch” series with this very stylish offering – the T Touch Expert Solar.

Tissot T Touch Expert Pro Solar.

Tissot T Touch Expert Pro Solar.

As the title this is now solar powered and not just any old ordinary Solar, but able to power the watch for an astonishing 1 year with just 1 hour of sun applied to the face!   The model is also fair bristling with functions, some 25 in all, from the ubiquitous compass, Altitude reader (they don’t call them altimeters anymore!), Timers and Weather Forecast/Predictors and goodness knows what else.

I can also forecast that the instruction booklet will be many, many pages and will have to be studied carefully if you’re going to get the best out of this machine.   And of course not forgetting the “T touch sensitive screen dial that starts it all off.  Case wise it’s titanium so it’s nice and light weight.

The dial for me is one of the best features of this new Tissot, as it’s the cleanest I’ve seen, not that they were too cluttered before, but here their designers have surpassed themselves and really come up with one of the best faces I’ve seen for a long time on any ana-digi model!   In fact the entire watch, case and dial design is quite exceptional in my opinion, though I have no data on the dimensions as yet.   I understand it is around 45mm diameter, so large but not excessively so and I note the back is very tidy in comparison to it’s predecessor, so it could well be thinner, which would be very good indeed.

Here is a video of the model in action – it shows pretty well and I for one am looking forward to this model – could bring my Birthday forward for this one!

Don’t know when it will be here and available here in the UK or the price, but here’s hoping it’s not too long or too much.

Smart news – and stuff

Further to my Post regarding “Smart” watches I see that Motorola are soon to be coming out with what I hope is a proper “watch” but with added smartphone technology.  If appearances are to be believed it will look like a conventional watch and be a sensible size.

The new Moto G smart watch - coming soon!

The new Moto 360 smart watch – coming soon!

Motorola apparently are saying they are committed to making it like a conventional watch, circular, very few if any buttons or pushers.  It connects via Google Now assistant with email alerts, phone calls and when messages etc arrive – so this is definitely looking good.

Dial can show various displays as well as conventional time.

Dial can show various displays as well as conventional time.

I can do no more than point you to their rather brief (at this stage) web site ( HERE )as a tester perhaps of things to come – soon and sometime this summer?  I’m very interested in this as if they get the size right and a decent functionality without too much complication, then they may well have a winner.

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I also note the Citizen one of our most well known mainstream makers is touting the Bluetooth smart watches TM84-0351V and TM84-0352V.   Other Smart Watch new boys in this game watch out (sorry for the pun!)

Smart watches from Citizen!

Smart watches from Citizen!

No prices yet or availability for world sales, but definitely interesting and ones to watch for 2014 – 15?

Presently only available and connecting to certain Japanese domestic phones, it does bode well for the “smart” set in that one of the big 4 is now in the game.

Round up (Fossil)

As usual I’ve been checking out some of my favorite watch brands, to see what might interest me and the first brand I looked at was Fossil.  Plenty to choose from perhaps but only one was of any interest, the rest doing nothing for me this time.   My solitary choice is the Fossil Aeroflite 3 hand date watch.

Fossil - my choice from the current crop

Fossil – my choice from the current crop

Still a relatively large case as is the Fossil tendency at 44mm diameter, but as they also often manage, just 12mm in height, so I’ll forgive them, with a decent Water Resistance of 100m.  Crown @4 and a 22mm wide strap.  This is a new model and at a simple price of £105 is good value.  Excellent finish stainless Steel and leather buckle strap give it an everyday watch appearance and I like the crown @4 just to be different and there is a small date window @3.  The Hour and Minute hands are nice and broad, hopefully with some decent luminescence both to the hands and the large green tinted numerals (poor luminescence a failing of some Fossil models I’ve found).  At least on this model the hands are broad with white painted infills so should have good clarity during the day.  There is also a centre seconds hand in white.

One of a number of watch models appearing recently that are moving away from the “let’s make it look complicated” look to a more simplistic expression.  A wysiwyg approach or “what you see is what you get” idea that if managed properly always strikes a chord with those of us who are looking for a watch that has got the basics right.

So a little disappointing to find only one Fossil model of interest to me, though there are obviously folks out there who’ll have different tastes and so on, but I’ll check in to Fossil every couple of months just to see what’s new.  If one comes up that I like I’ll post it here.

Smart time

Thought I’d try and find a Smart watch that at least looked like an actual watch.  Not one of those devices trying to be a full blown tablet on the wrist, because I consider them in their infancy and experimental enough that I’ve no wish to spend my cash just to bolster their development costs.  So for me, less is more so to speak and I am encouraged to find two models along the lines of what smart watch should mean, with the emphasis on “watch”.  These are basically devices that will “pair” to your iPhone or Android device without overreaching their capabilities.  Get these right and we’re on the right track.

First up is the Cogito Original – a smart watch that actually looks like a watch!

Cognito Original Smart Watch.

Cogito Original Smart Watch.

And as they say on their web site –

“COGITO ORIGINAL brings together the power of a connected watch with the sophistication of a precision-crafted timepiece”  and  “When linked with the smartphone or tablet app, COGITO allows users to cut through the digital noise by customizing settings based on their priorities and selecting which notifications will appear.   On the watch face, users can see who is calling or messaging, and decide whether to answer or mute it and  “COGITO frees users from continually checking their phones “.

Perhaps like me you’ve been looking at those odd “smart” wrist gadgets appearing here and there, such as Samsung and Sony, Pebble and a good few others and maybe like me you’ve not been that impressed.  My dislike of these things is initially that they simply look like an oversize slab of square or rectangular glass strapped on top of the wrist, but which have no consideration of wrist shape or size.
Some manage phone applications, others simply link to your phone, assuming you can get a signal of course.  Though why you need to link from your wrist to your pocket (where your phone is stashed) I find perhaps debatable as a must have.

I just don’t see the point when you can simply take out your phone or whatever and use it directly (mind you I only use an old cell phone for emergencies – so maybe I’m in the stone age here).  And personally being a pessimist, maybe I feel it’s technology for technologies sake, rather than practicality, BUT who am I to stand in the way of progress!

Now apart from the size and shape issue, there is the rubbish battery life to consider.  Their problem of course is that we’re all so used to watches, that is wristwatches that don’t require a battery charge ever, mechanical or solar quartz.  Even standard quartz models have a battery life of 2 to 10 years these days and yet this so called Smart technology can only manage 1 day or at best 1 week? before having to charge the battery!   I’d have to say that “smart” is not the word I’d use.
This means you to have a charger of some kind with you if on a trip for example and find a power supply too . . . .?   And if for some reason you’re unable to manage that, maybe lose it for example (easy to do if traveling) then you are literally stuck.  No smart anything and let’s hope no one asks you for the time!

Cognito Original - a proper "smart"watch at last?

Cogito Original – a proper “smart”watch at last?

COGITO ORIGINAL appears to incorporate the power of a “connected” watch and a decent timepiece.  It links to your the smartphone or tablet app and allows you to customize settings based on your priorities and then decide which notifications will appear on the watch face, see who’s calling or texting and decide your response.
It also features a tap-to-act function, which means a faster response plus it uses Bluetooth 4.0 low energy technology, which means no battery charging as the cell will last well over a year without a charge and when necessary can be replaced easily by the user.

It comes with a SR626SW standard button-cell battery plus a CR2032 Battery and a Quick Start Guide + with alternative colour and material choices available, this 100m Water Resistance smart watch, can be as individual as you like and used in most situations, even in the pool.

Well that’s what Cogito says and it certainly sounds very promising and it appears to me, to be much more in keeping with my idea of a useful “smart watch” at this stage in our technology.   It looks like a watch, it tells the time like a watch, it talks to your phone and it’s got a watch battery life . . . .  it sounds good to me!

So far I like what I see and I note it’s going to be available around the end of this month at $179.99 on pre-order – so if you’re into this smart technology stuff – could be well worth a look!

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My second find is the Cookoo Life smart watch, that again is in keeping with a proper wristwatch, rather than an odd box stuck on your wrist, trying to be something more than it is

The Cookoo Life - a smart watch that thinks it's a watch

The Cookoo Life – a smart watch that thinks it’s a watch

The COOKOO Life comes in a whole pile of colors and the core functionality of linking via Bluetooth 4 to your iPhone or Android seems to be excellent.  And it also tells you the time all the time, as it has permanent analogue hour, minute and seconds hands.
Once linked or “paired” to your device it keeps you in control of any alerts and notifications you receive on your phone, either by Icon, Beep or even Vibration.

Cookoo color options are many

Cookoo color options are many

Phone features are notified to you, such as Incoming Calls, Missed Calls, Facebook messages, Calendar reminders, Email and SMS, Low Battery on your iPad warning and Out of range alarm.  You can even take photographs with your device/phone remotely and play music.  I particularly like the “find your phone” feature, just press a button to sound an alert for locating it.

Again this watch has a decent Water Resistance, a CR2032 button-cell battery and a easy change battery hatch on the rear so you can replace it if required sometime after a year.  I also like the fact that both these models can update functionality by using different Apps which are often free downloads to your phone device.

Looks like a wrist watch and acts like a wristwatch, that's smart as well.

The Cookoo Life – looks like a wrist watch, acts like a wristwatch, but smart as well.

OK and let’s be honest here, this is a completely different world for me, being the sort of guy who loves vintage timepieces and traditional watches, but I have to admit to being quite impressed by both these smart watches first and foremost as they both look and act like a proper watch.  Plus the added “new age” functions that for modern people are probably more relevant and useful than the old traditional features and watch complications.  Though Timers and stopwatches can still be managed, these are normal rather than added function sets here.  Perhaps Altimeters and Compasses are better left to individual devices at the moment.

But it looks like Time’s not stopping for anyone and although it might be going that little bit fast for me – I’m hanging on best I can . . . . . . . if I’m “smart” and have the time.  😉

Out of reach? I’ll wait.

Once again arguably the best Protrek Casio yet is NOT available here in the UK.  The model PRW3000 series improves on the current range and uses the Ver 3. Triple Sensor (Altimeter/Barometer, Thermometer & Compass), it’s solar powered and Radio Controlled with Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping, with a 100m Water Resistance case.

PRW-3000 series from Casio Pro-Tec

PRW-3000 series from Casio Protrek

Owing to the improved and updated modules the direction sensor is smaller (plus improved power consumption) means that the overall dimensions of this model are at last reduced.  And if familiar with my web site you well know this is an ongoing issue I have with watches today.  At 47mm diameter x 56mm x 12.3 height and only 62g weight, this is at least moving nearer the normal wrist size, without looking like a Marvel comic character.

Accuracy too has been improved with Altitude measured in 1m increments and the display compass readings have 60 seconds of continuous measurement.  Added to that there is a Barometric Pressure Tendency Alarm that alerts the wearer to sudden changes in pressure readings – more like GPS units.

As I understand it – can only be purchased from outlets in the Far East and if you need one, then that’s what you will have to do – and run the gauntlet of customs delays, high customs Duty and VAT charges and perhaps an overpriced model at the end of it all.

Of course some will ask if an ABC model is worth all the hassle at all and perhaps rightly so.  If into trekking or mountaineering, then you are presumably pretty efficient with map and compass already and maybe have a GPS unit, which after all gives the same data (possibly more accurately as it’s not as confined space wise?) plus a positional indication moving map.
And that’s a valid point – most GPS units are very, very good at horizontal positioning, which is arguably the most important aspect for the majority of recreational walkers, as opposed to serious mountaineering.  It actually tells you where you are!  The ABC watch of course doesn’t have that function!

And there are the gadget freaks who simply must have the model as it’s the latest high tech wrist fashion.  How often have I seen a Tube video of someone showing off his ABC and saying – “Well I know I’m at 400ft, though the watch says  320ft – not too bad is it?”  My own thoughts are he’s used the wrong description – not too bad?  I think a better one would be “utterly useless”.  Or being charitable – perhaps he doesn’t yet know how to calibrate the thing.

And that IS a point.  With all ABC watches you have to calibrate them .  The Compass and the Altimeter, Barometric pressure and so on, all have to be calibrated otherwise the unit will NOT be accurate.  And if as in Scotland where the atmospheric pressure changes often by the minute (our weather is unpredictable to say the least) you might as well forget it, as most readings will be worse than useless.
However if using GPS with a barometric/altimeter and pressure is changing due to weather and not elevation change, at least on some units you have the option of selecting “fixed elevation” mode when it then uses the GPS only for elevation data.  But I don’t think you can do this on a wrist watch – yet.

I’ve decided already not to rush to the Far East for one just yet.  I’m thinking why do I need one?  Maybe I’ll wait for a few UK or USA reviews (not the hype) and consider carefully if I really want one at all.
And when you sit and think about it – time is actually on your side.  These units will surely get better and who knows – v4 might just be around the corner – accuracy and calibration factors could improve out of all recognition next week or month!
Imagine Calibration could even be a totally automatic process for Altitude, Pressure and Compass!   Carrying around a 90 page instruction booklet is not my idea of fun!   The ultimate goal has to be – buy it, strap it on and go!

Now OK just supposition on my part of course and don’t let my hangups stop you rushing out and getting one, from wherever.  But personally even with the latest ABC’s, I have to admit to viewing them in the gadget category, albeit a “work in progress”  –  so I’m quite happy to wait.