Smart watch! Got your attention. Though practically a four-letter word in watchdom, it’s a reality that they have become a part of the fabric of the market. No, they aren’t going to destroy things and no, watch brands don’t need to worry, but they are here and they are here to stay. I personally just see them as a logical evolution of digital and quartz watches. If you’re in the market for one of those, why not get the most up-to-date features, assuming the cost is relatively the same? Not into it? Mechanicals aren’t going anywhere.
But, within those new “smart” features are a wide range of concepts, and frankly some are more interesting than others. I’ve always found the “alert me” and “health tracker” concepts too narrow and redundant. My phone is in my pocket or on my desk 99% of the time, so I see or hear alerts and thanks to the accelerometer in phones and various apps, it’s easy to track steps. What I’d look for is something more suited to my personal needs and something that I could customize as those needs change. Also, and this should go without saying, these features shouldn’t come at the expense of a good looking watch.
Enter Kronaby, a new Swedish brand of connected watches (note the lack of “smart”–it’s an irritating term and Kronaby is smart enough not to use it) that look like real watches and do, well, what you want them to (within limits). Kronaby is essentially what happens when you take a bunch of cellphone engineers, software designers and team them up with watch designers. With the ability to design and engineer everything from the ground up, which includes their “movement” (more on that later) and software, they were able to create something different that wasn’t tied to a bloated OS like Android Wear, looks good, and at the very least, appealed to this cynical watch reviewer. What got me was that each “complication” or “trigger”, whether a pusher or sub-dial, can have the function of my choosing (from a specific list), and that rather than alerting you to everything, you can filter alerts to only tell you what you want to know or you can eliminate them entirely.
This is the first time I’ve reviewed a connected watch, and upon using the watch it became immediately clear that the physical part you wear is really only half of the story. The software is just as important and is really where the brand shines, so I’ll have to dedicate some time there. Admittedly, I haven’t tried most of the other connected watches out there, such as those by Fossil or Swatch Group brands, so I can’t compare to others, but I was impressed by Kronaby.
As for the watches, they offer a nice range of styles from two-hand 38mm dressier pieces to beefy 43mm four-handers (two on the sub-dial) ranging from $395 – $675. I got to try out two, but because you can only sync one to your phone, I will focus on the $675 Apex in black. It’s something between a modern pilots watch and a general sports watch, and regardless of its connected functions, is a watch I’d find appealing.