Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swims
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  1. #1
    Member X2-Elijah's Avatar
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    Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swims

    So.. I have to confess, I know almost nothing about modern smartwatches. My head's been too buried in the "normal watches are the shizz" sand.

    I hope you folks can help me out.

    In short, I'm half-considering switching to a smartwatch, but it would have to satisfy a long list of criteria, and frankly I have no idea what existing smartwatches fit and what don't. I tried reading a few smartwatch reviews from places that usually review smartphones, and to me their reviews don't reveal the info that I'm looking for.

    In brief, here's what I'd like:

    A smartwatch that looks good as a daily wearer, has a build quality equal to or better than mechanical watches in multi-hundred-$ range (e.g. seiko turtle level of solidity, or Halios/Oris level of fit), and can be worn to the beach/gym/etc and be at least somewhat useful there.

    Specifically, I'm hoping for a smartwatch with:
    - good display (!)
    - good build (!!) at least on par with regular watches
    - 20 or 22mm regular strap compatibility OR very nice proprietary strap range (rubber and leather)
    - passive or active fitness tracking (heartrate, movements, exercise/gym-workout/running/idk-what - but something a bit more than just a step counter)
    - some synchronization to phone (even if only time & fitness data, that's enough)
    - ... always on display of some kind? Or like really really good autoactivation?
    - Non-irritating operating system / user interface
    - reasonably waterproof for swimming
    - doesn't fall apart or peel apart after a few months (had a fitbit whose rubber top-layers peeled off in 3 months :( )
    - *must* work with android phones (don't have an iphone..)


    Incidentally, some of the more popular smartwatch stuff, like making phonecalls on it or music streaming, are not that relevant to me.

    But, it should be high quality - otherwise it will be too hard to let go of my "regular" watches.

    So... does such a smartwatch exist out there? Or are my expectations unreasonable / too high? What brands/models should I look at, what's actually good in the smartwatch space? Is there anything worth looking at from brands like citizen/seiko, or is it all mobile phone brand dominated?
    Wearing: Borealis Estoril DW-Blue
    + always on wrist: Fitbit Inspire HR

  2. #2
    Member kramer5150's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    Samsung galaxy is a good all around choice, with some basic sport tracking features. Doesn't sound like you need LTE connectivity, so just stick with the basic bluetooth version. I think its water splash resistant like a lot of smart watches, but I would not take it in a pool. The "IP" water resistance ratings ONLY apply to fresh water. There is no standard for salt water resistance or swimming pool chemistry. I don't have first hand experience with it, other than a close look at a co-workers. IMHO it doesn't have the same rugged feel as a Seiko ISO6425 diver, no smart watch does honestly. But for the price its one of the nicest feeling. Its more solid feeling than my fossil gen4 explorist, it feels a lot like my 46mm moto 360 in terms of overall heft and quality. The Samsung Tizan OS is one of the better ones, although my understanding is it works best with Samsung phones. There are some minor limitations if you are on a non-Samsung android phone. You'll have to research that a little.

    https://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Galax...artwatch&psc=1

    You will need to figure out which operating system works best for you. I have been on Android Wear OS since early 2015 with my moto 360... Honestly it sucked. Just a brutally poorly managed OS by Android. Buggy, laggy, every other month they would release a software update that crashed something on my watch. My moto 360 never had the same exact functionality every other month. Frustrating for a $375 purchase. By far one of the worst consumer electronic devices I have ever purchased.

    Now that my watches have been updated to WearOS things are much more stable.

    IMHO smartwatches are all kind of cheap feeling. Though I have never handled a high end Tag or MontBlanc. So your expectations will need to step down a notch in that regard.

    Good luck!!
    Last edited by kramer5150; January 16th, 2019 at 23:48.
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    Unfortunately you don’t have much choices.

    Samsung Galaxy Watch is probably your best option, though the build and finish quality is far from what you get from the traditional watches. It is comparable with the $100 - $200 range on regular watches.

    The Tag Heuer Connect and Montblanc are a step higher in the build & finish department, though they lack the HR sensor and are priced considerably higher than the rest. But they look very good indeed.

    Then you have the Garmins and Suuntos, which are really very sports oriented and very big. They lack the versatility of true smart watches but they are quite popular.

    IMO, the best smart watch for traditional watch lovers is the Apple Watch, as they were designed by real watch collectors. It has the best price/quality ratio and best experience. But it doesn’t work with Android phones.
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  5. #4
    Member X2-Elijah's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    Thank you. In a way, that's what I was afraid of... I'm not prepared to take a step down in quality, esp. how it "feels", and at least from reviews, nothing (aside from, yes, the apple watch) seemed promising; you both also confirmed that suspicion.

    I had an asus smartwatch way way back when android wearOS just started out, and yeah, it wasn't good ^^ I guess not much has changed there.

    I kinda wish Citizen and Casio did some more smartwatch-oriented products. They already know how to make affordable but good-built / solid things, and how to design wristwatches. So much potential.
    Wearing: Borealis Estoril DW-Blue
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    I forgot to mention that Casio is about to release their WSD-F30 model this month. It looks promising for a sports watch, but it won't be versatile enough as a "wear on every occasion" watch.

    You also need to keep in mind that the smart watches have a relative short life span, of about 3-4 years. There is not a big market for luxury smart watches out there to convince manufacturers to invest in quality materials and finishing. However, their usefulness greatly outweighs the "luxury feel" shortcoming. Personally I am looking into start rotating smartwatches: I have an AW3 and looking to get a used Samsung Galaxy Watch 42mm.

  7. #6
    Member X2-Elijah's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    Idk if I agree with there not being a big enough market for luxury design/build. I mean... Apple Watch is by far the most successful smartwatch. In no small part due to its design and build. It's really weird that the big companies like samsung don't have an equally good counterpart...
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    Quote Originally Posted by X2-Elijah View Post
    Idk if I agree with there not being a big enough market for luxury design/build. I mean... Apple Watch is by far the most successful smartwatch.
    TBH, I wouldn't consider the AW a luxury smartwatch. Maybe the top version of SS with Hermes straps. I remember reading somewhere that the vast majority of AW sales are of the aluminum versions. I don't know how well the Hermes editions are selling.

    Samsung has an issue with their product design and I think they lack in good designers. Even their top level smartphones have a crappy design, from aesthetic p.o.v. Their smartwatch looks OK for a $300 watch.

  9. #8
    Member kramer5150's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    Quote Originally Posted by X2-Elijah View Post
    Thank you. In a way, that's what I was afraid of... I'm not prepared to take a step down in quality, esp. how it "feels", and at least from reviews, nothing (aside from, yes, the apple watch) seemed promising; you both also confirmed that suspicion.

    I had an asus smartwatch way way back when android wearOS just started out, and yeah, it wasn't good ^^ I guess not much has changed there.

    I kinda wish Citizen and Casio did some more smartwatch-oriented products. They already know how to make affordable but good-built / solid things, and how to design wristwatches. So much potential.
    Yeah in terms of WearOS, and how Google maintains the new software platform, the verdict is still out on that. It was released around October 2018. I have only had it since late November. So far though it has been a WAY better experience than the old Android Wear that was used on your Asus and my moto 360 in its early days. I am happy to report WearOS for me has been completely stable. I honestly have no significant problems to report. Even though my moto 360 is going on its 4th year it still works good... certainly well enough for what I need.

    Casio does have their smartwatch... but its clearly a sport design.

    I have an amazfit stratos incoming tomorrow. We will see how that goes. Its more of a fitness centric design though with the bling of a black ceramic bezel. Like if Traser / Luminox partnered with Casio and fitbit for a smart-fitness kind of product.

    Good luck in your search!!

    Oh... smartwatches at least in my country are main-stream enough that I can easily go to a local department store or shopping mall and touch/feel the display units first hand. Of course the apple store is pretty wide open too. You should also be aware that Fossil, Michael kors and I suspect Diesel are owned by the Timex brand... and thus as far as WearOS smart watches go you can expect similar levels of quality.
    Last edited by kramer5150; January 17th, 2019 at 17:54.
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    I think the OP refers to the physical build quality rather than software quality and experience, although this is an important aspect in a smartwatch.

    It is worth mentioning Fossil and Michael Kords smart watches, as they are closer to a regular watch than the others, in terms of aesthetic. They may not have the same sensors as Samsung; they are more fashion oriented.

  11. #10
    Member BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Re: Advice needed: well-built & stylish smart watch that's great for gym + everyday + some runs/swim

    Quote Originally Posted by X2-Elijah View Post
    Idk if I agree with there not being a big enough market for luxury design/build. I mean... Apple Watch is by far the most successful smartwatch. In no small part due to its design and build. It's really weird that the big companies like samsung don't have an equally good counterpart...
    No kidding. It's like they don't understand that a gadget that's going to sit against the wearer's skin all day long shouldn't have plastic mold lines, tabs or nubs that stick out, recessed holes that collect dirt, or all those other gadget-y surface blemishes that weren't an issue on a Walkman.

    Great materials and build quality matter just as much for smartwatches as they do for any other wristwatch.
    X2-Elijah likes this.

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