The “Swiss watch” label has long been associated with timepieces of the highest quality, and the Withings’ Activité is no exception. Looking at it, though, you’d never guess that it houses a fitness tracker as well.
According to the Withings’ website, the Activité is designed in Paris and manufactured in Switzerland, using exclusive watch materials. It’s protected by a scratch-proof, domed sapphire glass, and its 5 ATM water-resistant case is made from stainless 316L alloy steel that’s resilient to time and corrosion.
The watch dial also comes in 2 colours — a sleek black pattern with an orange accent, and a glistening white face with a blue accent. Both are fantastic to look at.
First things first, a watch is supposed to be a watch. As ridiculous and inanely simple as that sentence may sound, the primary function of a watch is to tell time. And the Activité does this with consummate ease.
The double-curved glass in the front envelopes the case, and tells time in the most traditional sense. No touchscreen here for you to play around with! (We give it a 10/10 for simplicity.) It is also water-resistant up to 50 m, and the watch battery will last about 8 months before it needs replacing. Hurrah! No need for daily recharges.
This is where it gets interesting: the Activité may look like a standard wristwatch — and it does its job, at that — but it is also a fitness tracker. It tracks your sleep, steps, and activity, and a smaller dial located within the watch’s face indicates the percentage of your step goal you have completed for the day. It’s the Activité’s pièce de résistance, and it’s there that the watch becomes more than just another expensive timepiece.
Presently, the Activité is only supported on the iPhone, such that users can sync the data collected by the watch onto their phones via Bluetooth. This can be done by downloading the Withings’ Health Mate app. According to Withings, Android support will also be incorporated soon.
As if these features are not enough for a watch, Withings has also gone ahead to design Activité such that it automatically changes time zones when you are traveling. This is possible due to the fact that the watch is synced to your smartphone. So whether you fly coast-to-coast or abroad, the watch will instantly adjust to the corresponding time zone.
We’ll admit: the Activité doesn’t come cheap. It retails at $450, and with that, you can buy a lot of inexpensive technology to satisfy your tech cravings. But we won’t delve too deep into the economics of the price of the watch here.
The wearable market is still in its infancy, and certain manufacturers are all geared up to roll out 2nd and 3rd generation iterations of their products in the coming days. These wearables will continue to command a premium price in the technology space, until mass adoption kicks in.
At present, wearable tech is a space dominated by a niche segmentation, in terms of the functions offered and the convenience they provide in our daily lives. Some of them aim to keep a close tab on your exercise activities, or similar regimens, via tracking. Others offer convenient, unobtrusive ways to interact with smartphones.
But the point I am trying to make here, is that everyone is finding their own way around in this rebooted watch market, and it’d be a disaster for a manufacturer to try to offer a single “smart-watch” that comes with every type of functionality. Even before the advent of smart-watches, normal watches used to come in different shapes, sizes and forms; these have succeeded in keeping us interested through the ages.
It is time for new age wearables to do the same. And Withings does this with aplomb.