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Spending time with the Huawei smartwatch

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As a true-blue watch snob, I have very strict criteria on what kind of pieces eventually make it to my collection. I’m an avid collector of vintage Swiss-made timepieces, so I’m not very easy to impress. Without even looking, I automatically say no when someone who’s not exactly learned in the art of horology tells me to “check out this watch” because it’s hardly ever worth my time.

However, when I saw the new Huawei Watch, I wasn’t quite sure how I would apply my own rules on what constitutes a proper watch. We are entering a different era where you can no longer dismiss a piece for not having a complicated mechanical movement or not being made within the borders of Switzerland, so a lot of hard lines are being blurred right now. That being said I still despise quartz watches.

We all have this idea of what a smartwatch looks like. It’s a bulky, unsightly design with a small screen that lets you do all kinds of things that you never wanted or felt the need to do in the first place. Sometimes it’s round, but most of the time it’s a squarish unaesthetic atrocity that looks like a small iPod touch dangling from your wrist. Huawei, on the other hand, bucks the trend with a traditional design that looks like a proper timepiece.

With a 42mm stainless steel case, sapphire crystal (not even my old Rolex has it), and a selection of bracelets and leather straps that will suit every mood, taste and occasion, the Huawei Watch has pretty much the same components of a real watch except for the high-tech internals that replace the traditional, single function movement. In terms of size, it fits about right on a normal size wrist. It’s not as small as the elegant vintage pieces I own, but it’s small enough to not look like a wall clock with a bracelet.

Equipped with an Android operating system, the watch will pair with both Android OS and Apple iOS phones (sad news for BlackBerry nerds and Microsoft dorks) through the Android Wear app, which allows the watch to fully realize its capabilities. The screen lets you read incoming messages, do Google searches (by talking to it) and track certain fitness functions such as a pedometer, heart rate monitor and calorie burn counter.

On the design front, the Huawei Watch comes with 20 pre-installed dial options that transforms it from sporty to dressy with just a few taps on the screen. There are some cheesy, fake chronometer face designs, but you should be able to find a couple that you’ll really like. Each of these faces has separate day and night looks, which is also a pretty cool feature.

On top of the touchscreen and button, the watch also comes with a number of sensors, which means it can be controlled with simple wrist gestures. It knows when you’re looking at it based on the movement of your wrist, so it will show your face dial selection when your wrist is up and then go to a darkened standby face when you put it back down to save battery. And speaking of the battery, Huawei estimates that a full charge of 75 minutes will last about 1.5 days. It could have been longer, but it’s one of the annoying realities of electronics – having a smartwatch adds another thing to plug to the wall on a regular basis.

Overall, I think fashionistas, gadget lovers and watch connoisseurs will find a great balance in the Huawei smart watch. Certainly some people don’t like compromise, but a greater number of them will appreciate that this is more than just a piece of tech – it’s also a style statement.

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