What’s that, a smart watch here on WWR? That’s right! Sure, we normally review those over on Knapsack, but sometimes, there’s some stuff going on that makes it a compelling option to include over here. And after spending some time with the Withings Scanwatch Horizon, we believe we’ve definitely got a solid smart watch option for those who don’t want to look like they’re wearing a smartwatch.
What is it?
At it’s core, the Withings Scanwatch Horizon is a hybrid smartwatch that can track your steps and all manner of health metrics, as well as show you notifications from your phone. We’ve seen these over the years, and they’ve have mixed success in combining classic watch looks with modern smarts. While it does rely on an analog display (down at 6 o’clock) to indicate your progress against your step goal, there’s also a PMOLED screen on the top half of the dial that hides away when not in use, and lights up with a notification comes in or you’re interacting in the menus.
How do you use it?
Well, as it’s a smart watch, the first thing you’ll want to do with the Withings Scanwatch Horizon is to charge it up. While it’s doing that, you’ll want to install the Withings App, so you can synchronize the watch with your phone. My installation was on iOS, and it was pretty seamless. I also setup some additional integrations with Strava and Apple Health (right in the app) and everything was communicating cleanly. What this means is you can use the Withings to track your exercise, and then take it off and still have Apple Health tracking your steps, to give you a fuller picture of your activity throughout the day, as both apps will talk to each other.
If you have notifications being sent to the watch, those pop up on the small screen. On paper, that sounds horrible, particularly for reading a text message. In practice, it works well with how it scrolls things. I was able to get a quick read on what the message was, and then decide if I needed to dig my phone out right then or if it could wait a bit.
To get into the various menus on the watch, you first engage the screen by pressing the crown in. Then you roll the crown to move through the menus, press the crown to select, and repeat on to get to what you want. It’s fairly intuitive, and I really did not miss having a touch screen on this watch as I used it.
How well does it work?
In a word, great. The Withings Scanwatch Horizon relies on your phone’s GPS to track, say, a hike or jog, so do note that. You’ll also need to have the app up and running on your phone, and then you’re off to the races. While you’re exercising, it’s automatically measuring your heart rate as well. Compared to some other fitness watches I have, the HR monitoring was pretty similar, as was the GPS distance tracking.
If you want to check your heart rate during the day, you can do that as well. The test runs for 30 seconds, which is neither the fastest or slowest I’ve experienced. Again, those SP02 measurements came in pretty close to what I was seeing on other watches.
One thing that the Withings Scanwatch Horizon can do that I’ve not had in a watch is an ECG, checking the electrical rhythm of your heart. To do this, you need to place your other hand on the bezel as well, and that creates the circuit that the watch needs. The first time you do it, the results are sent to Withings to have a professional review them. Once you’re “cleared” to use the function, then, the app is able to see if it detects any abnormal rhythms. Fortunately, all was clear for me. If you’re concerned about the heart patterns, you’ll also have the capability to share the results with your doctor.
Another thing that the watch does – and does quite well – is sleep tracking. Most fitness watches will do this, to varying degrees of success. I found it did a pretty good job of detecting what time I fell asleep. Getting up in the morning, that was a little hit or miss; I found the best way to tell it I was awake was to sync the watch with my phone.
With all of these metrics it’s collecting, the app is able to pull together a more holistic view of your health, watching for issues with your sleep patterns, letting you know if you were more or less active than the prior week, and so on. If you want to further extend that view, you could pick up a scale or blood pressure cuff from Withings, and of course have those blended into the total health picture (or so we presume; we’ve not tested any of those).
Did we like it?
Given that – once I started testing out the Withings Scanwatch Horizon – the watch rarely left my wrist, the answer to that is yes. In large part, it’s because it fit precisely into how I use a smart watch. I rarely have notifications going to it, but I do rely on it to track my sleep and wake me in the morning, track my morning walk or jog, and then either be on the shelf or unobtrusive if I’m still wearing it.
Most smart watches, they get taken off when I get in the shower, and they aren’t put back on until the evening. With the Withings Scanwatch Horizon, however, it managed to stay on my wrist. Sure, I’d swap it from the synthetic strap to the steel bracelet (and then back to the synthetic at night) using the quick-change spring bars, but I’d otherwise keep wearing it.
What I really enjoyed was that, if the screen wasn’t lighting up for something, it looks just like any other watch that I might be wearing. In fact, when I took my kids for a bike ride, they were very surprised that I was able to track our distance, since they thought I was wearing just a “regular” watch.
Past that, the battery life on this is amazing. Sure, the Withings Scanwatch Horizon is reliant on the GPS in your phone, so that definitely helps with the battery life preservation. I was generally able to get between 1.5 and 2 weeks between charges, and about half that if I had notifications being sent to my phone. It even has a lower-power mode, where it is just displaying the time and tracking steps, which is supposed to get up to a month.
Who is it for?
The Withings Scanwatch Horizon is perfect for someone who only really wants or needs a smart watch for part of their day (during a workout), and/or doesn’t want their watch to look like a brightly-lit LCD. For me, again, it was a perfect fit for how I use a smartwatch. With the steel case and bracelet, sapphire crystal, and clicky bezel, it also satisfied some of the stuff us watch folks look for. As I said, I’ve been wearing this watch a lot, and I’ve had no complaints about it.
Sure, the lume could be a bit stronger on the hands and indices, but you can always hit the crown to have the screen show the time as well. Which, ok, that’s another quibble – I wouldn’t mind being able to track a second timezone on that screen. Still, though, it’s about as perfect of a smart watch as I could envision for how I use them, with a lot of great health-focused capability built it.
Where can I get one?
If you want to get a Withings Scanwatch Horizon, they come in two colors – blue (as we reviewed) or green. Past that, you’ll also want to decide what sort of straps you want it to come with. Yes, it comes with the bracelet and the color-matched synthetic bands, but you can also opt to get additional textile or leather straps if you want. For me, I’ve found some great stretchy straps that work well in the 20mm lugs, and are quite comfortable. If you want to get one, the watch is $499.95 over at Amazon, or directly from withings.com
Tech Specs from Withings
- Heart rate: beats per minute
- Breathing disturbances: monitoring via respiratory scan
- Electrocardiogram: tracing of a 30-seconds ECG recording on a millimetric grid
- Oxygen saturation level (medical-grade SpO2)
- Walking and running: steps, distance, calories, based on user’s profile for high precision
- Calories: metabolic calories and total calories expenditure
- Running: automatically detected, in-app daily recap of duration and distance
- Swimming: automatically detected, in-app recap with duration and calories burned
- Sleep: deep and light sleep phases, irregular heartbeat detection, sleep interruptions
- Fitness Level: assessment via VO2Max estimation
- Elevation: meters and floors climbed
- Withings App is the best way to keep track of activity, sleep, weight, and more.
- You’ll see trends, progress, and get coaching to help you improve over time.
- Whatever your health goal, you’ll find support for it in the Withings App.
- The use of the Withings App and the creation of a Withings account are required.
- Bluetooth Low Energy – to sync with Health Mate
- Bluetooth connection with location settings permission must be enabled to use the Connected GPS feature
- ScanWatch can be installed on a smartphone or a tablet, via the Withings app available on iOS (iOS 14 and higher) and Android (10.0 and higher).
- Cannot be set up from a computer
- 43mm diameter (1.7’’)
- 13.28mm thickness (0.52’’)
- 20mm wristband width (0.78’’)
- 72g (watch only)
- Analog dial with hands for hours and minutes. Subdial displays progress toward daily activity goal in percentage. The PMOLED screen displays SpO2, irregular rhythm and smartphone notifications, heart rate, steps, floors climbed, distance, calories, activities, and settings.
- Workout mode displays timer and heart rate(continuous tracking).
- Clock menu with alarm, stopwatch and timer.
- Notifications display previews of incoming calls, text messages, calendar events and 100+ apps.
- Single battery charge lasts up to 30 days in normal use
- +20 additional days in power reserve mode (time and activity tracking only)
- Approximately 2 hours to 100%. About 1 hour to 80%
- Comes with a stainless steel case featuring a rotating stainless steel bezel, a sunray brass dial with applied stainless steel indexes with luminous coating, brass hands with luminous coating, sapphire glass, a stainless steel wristband, and a durable and water-resistant fluoroelastomer (FKM) wristband
Conditions of use
- Water resistant up to 330 feet deep (100 m, 10 ATM)
- Operating temperature: -10°C to 45°C (14°F to 113°)
- Storage temperature: -20°C to 85°C (4°F to 185°)
- Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) can make ECG recordings inconclusive.
- Exclusive multi-wavelength PPG heart rate/SpO2 sensor
- Stainless steel electrodes
- High precision MEMS 3-axis accelerometer