Purpose Driven Watches With Smarts

Posted on 26 June 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

BeFunky_Withings Active 03.jpg

A lot of smart watches I see try to be everything.  Email, facebook posts, texts, weather, and so on and so on.  They are not watches in a traditional sense, but rather wearable computers that display the time.  Today, I wanted to highlight two purpose driven watches that are more “connected” watches than a “do everything” wearable.  The HotBlack by Hoptroff.com and the Withings Activé are connected devices designed to do a single task, with the former connecting you to your favorite football (soccer) team and the latter tracking your daily fitness goals.  Interestingly, both watches are coming out of the UK.

Hoptroff HotBlack 01

I will focus on the HotBlack first, because I saw it first and you can actually put your money down on one.  Hoptroff has a very interesting line-up of single purpose connected watches in the pipeline, and the HotBlack looks to be the first out of the gate.  A Blog To Watch interviewed one of the men behind the brand regarding their atomic pocketwatch.  Well, this project is not quite as adventurous, but it is ambitious none the less.

The watch uses a low powered Bluetooth radio to connect the watch to your smart phone.  When your team is playing in a match, the subdials will tell you the score and the time remaining in the match.  The three subdials revert to date and time functions when there is no game on.  So, no checking the phone or switching on the TV to catch the score, just glance at your watch.  But if you don’t want your significant other to know how addicted you are (as if she does not know already), skip the cheering when the subdial at 12:00 ticks ahead one.

Hoptroff HotBlack 02

Powering the watch is a proprietary quartz mechanism that utilizes servo motors to control the subdials.  The case is 44mm black PVD stainless steel with a sapphire crystal, on a matching PVD stainless bracelet.  It is rated to 5 ATM and it is designed to pair with both iOS and Android smart phones.

There are still watch rewards available at the entry funding level of £400 + £10 for shipping outside of the UK (~$700 US).  As of this writing, they are about 10% of the way to the £23,000.  After the first 20 go, the levels jump up by £100 to the final level at £700, though there is also a customized £1,500 option.  So if you are a fan of the beautiful game, check out the kickstarter pagehoptroff.com

Withings Active 01

Taking a similar tack, but providing a different function, is the Withings Activé, a connected watch that tracks your progress toward a pre-set fitness goal.  The large subdial at 5:00 reads your progress, from 0 to 100%.  A built in accelerometer tracks steps, swimming and sleep patters and communicates that back to an app on your phone, which then calculates your progress to a goal.

Since it is connected to your phone, it also updates the time if you are traveling via your phone.  A double tap on the glass will also bring up the alarm time.  As of right now, it is listed as iOS compatible.

Withings Active 02

The watch itself is Swiss Made, using the Swiss Made Connected Movement™, and it is water resistent to 5 ATM.  It is shipped with a leather and a plastic strap with quick release spring bars so you can keep the leather strap out of the water, or the gym.  As an alternative to a standard watch and a movement tracker lick a Fitbit®, I think this is a very attractive way to go.

It is listed at $390, so it is also price competitive against a dressy quartz watch and a tracker.  Withings states that the watch will be available in Fall 2014, and you can view the web page and sign up for updates here: withings.com/activite.



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