Here’s a non-news flash: A watch – any watch – must be designed and styled in an attractive, comfortable way so that I can wear it. If it looks like it was written by a 5-year-old or has the same comfort as wrapping barbed wire around my wrist, then no functionality would convince me to put it on.
It still sounds very bizarre to say, yet we have been in the “modern” smartwatch revolution for over eight years, and there are still only a handful of models that I want to wear regularly. Why is it taking so long for tech companies to understand how to consistently build a desirable smartwatch?
Where did it all go wrong?
If the design of the smartwatch was not so tragic most of the time, it would have been extremely entertaining. In our 2014 review of the LG G Watch – a foul of a wearable – our mobile editor at the time wrote:
“The vast majority of smartwatches are horrifically ugly, boxy contraptions with boring, rubber straps. It may look shallow, but when it comes to wearables, the look matters. They matter a lot.”
With only a few minor modifications, these sentences can still be true today, and this is not enough. LG was not the only cause of bleeding from the eyes. The original Pebble was toy-like and an embarrassment to wear, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Gear 2 watches lacked style, and the Sony Smartwatch 2 had more angles than a thief man.
Surprisingly, seven years after the LG G Watch was fed, companies such as Mobvoi, Fitbit, and dozens of cheap unnamed brands on Amazon are still churning out boxy, ugly, boring contraceptives and hoping that we can get them Will tie on his body, no questions were asked. . The design of a smartwatch has become lazy when it should flourish.
all the same
Today the design meeting for many smartwatches should be something like this:
- Step 1: Choose a round or square case.
- Step 2: Choose a leather strap for “classy” or a silicone strap for “sporty”.
- Step 3: Add titanium / sapphire crystal / other material for the “luxury” version.
- Step 4: Done – Early lunch!
What happens once the design team takes an afternoon vacation is that we end up with smartwatches that all look very similar. Meet OnePlus Watch, Amazfit GTR 2, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, Huawei Watch GT2 Pro, Honor MagicWatch 2, Garmin VivoActive 4S, and Polar Ignite in a dark street, and it will be a struggle to tell them apart. This is worse if you are a woman or a person with short wrists. The “choice” is practically nonexistent, and if you don’t want something shiny or pink, it’s made worse.
Most of the models mentioned above are good, perhaps even great, smartwatches, but if almost no consideration has been given to the design of the watch, where is my motivation to wear it every day? Watches can be seen, and like it or not, they say something about you and your taste. In the same way I do not want to wear exactly the same clothes that everyone wears or do not drive the same car, I do not want to wear exactly the same watch.
The disturbing thing is that none of this is new information, and the world of smartwatches no longer has an excuse to just get started or be bound by technical restrictions. What it is doing is going through the motions and hopefully no one will notice.
Will not work without emotion
Watches that all look alike are boring. Today there are more than enough tech companies and brands that make smartwatches see that there should be more diversity, imagination and love in design. It is not so much about the size of the case, but about the intricacies that make the watch attractive or attractive.
This can be button design or placement. This may be how the strap attaches to the lugs or how the lugs are mixed in the case. This can be the form of the strap or its clasp, the available watch face, the type of chuffer or polish used on the case, and more. There is an entire industry that makes watches that are not “smart” and there is no shortage of incredible designs.
Simply put, a watch needs an identity and character to appeal to and captivate. Those designing it need careful consideration in making it, and preferably some kind of emotion. In this way, there is a good chance that you will feel something about the watch as well. Just because it is a piece of technology and has a screen instead of a dial, it does not mean that it should be treated like a cheap refrigerator.
Does anyone correct this?
There are smartwatches that prove that it can be done. The most recent, and perhaps the best, example is the Casio G-Shock GSW-H1000. It is a Wear OS smartwatch with a touchscreen, but it looks, feels and wears like almost any other G-Shock watch. It is a company-made smartwatch that, for fans of the brand, fully understands the watchmaking process. No corners have been cut, and no concessions have been made to appeal to a wide audience. Crucially, it is the G-Shock watch before it was a smartwatch.
TAG Heuer, Hublot, Montblanc, and Movado all make smartwatches that draw on the brand’s watchmaking heritage – anything from the screws used in the case to the shape and design of the crown – so the resulting product feels like it’s in the range. Is a consistent part of. Alpina and Frederick Constant do not use touchscreens, but incorporate connected technology into watches that do not differ much from any of their traditional, and highly recognizable models. Many of Fossil’s designer brands also get it right, especially Skagen and Diesel constantly releasing uniquely designed watches.
It is not just experienced watch brands. The Withings ScanWatch is a beautifully designed watch with high-tech functionality. Garmin’s diverse Marq models are an equally effective blend of established watch design and technology, as well as sensible use of luxury materials. Finally, there’s the Apple Watch, which wears better than almost any other smartwatch you can buy today, and by applying one of the hundreds of straps available to it and applying a delicious watch face set as standard By doing so, the look can be changed immediately.
Not an easy job, but worth doing
Not every smartwatch needs to be unique, not every design has to be a work of art, and not everyone will care if they connect emotionally to their wristwatch. Technology should be at the forefront of smartwatches, and of course the device needs to reach a wider audience. Fixing the mixture is a difficult task. Just ask Citizen, who couldn’t make their nice CZ Smart smartwatch “Citizen-Like” enough.
However, the challenge does not mean giving up effort and compromising for a boring, established design. A smartwatch should catch the eye with its charm, always feel comfortable, and be influenced by what works on traditional watches. It should not be so faceless that it is impossible to pick it up in the lineup.
As we close to a decade after the Pebble smartwatch first arrived, smartwatch manufacturers need to think more about design and less about fitting another health tracking sensor and say a reason to buy it. There is an interesting new software platform for wearables on the horizon, so let’s not waste it by placing it on another monotonous, faceless piece of hardware.
In the not too distant future, I would love to be in a position to settle down on and recommend at least one new smartwatch to wear every day because it fulfills my desire for both good design and serious technology – one that I want Hoon look, don’t just look because a notification has arrived. Is that too much to ask?