It’s Time…

to start wearing a watch again, especially now you can use one to organise your life. Justin Mastine-Frost straps on the best smart timepieces.

There was a time not long ago when many thought the era of watches had come to an end. Mobile phones, with their time displays, had become commonplace, so wearing a watch became obsolete for many. That time is over, with smartwatches becoming a new and effective way to not only tell time at a cursory glance, but also to get notifications, read messages, track fitness and accomplish numerous other tasks without having to dig into your pockets or purse. There are many players in the category and, aside from the obvious Apple Watch, we’ve narrowed down four of our favourites.

1 Fitbit Versa

From a design standpoint the closest option to the classic Apple Watch is the Fitbit Versa, which packs plenty of fitness and health functionality into a versatile and daily-wear–friendly design. Boasting four-plus days of battery life, the Versa tracks a range of fitness activities, monitors your heart rate, and provides mapping and tracking of activities through GPS in the Fitbit app (not standalone in the watch). For the ladies in the room, it even provides a means of tracking period symptoms, duration and other related stats. Outside these key features, the Versa also provides messaging display and notifications, has a built-in NFC (near-field communication) payment chip, and can store and play up to 300 songs, as well as integrate with Deezer.

2 TAG Heuer Connected Modular

Touted as the first smartwatch from a Swiss luxury watch brand, the TAG Heuer Connected arrived in 2016, fetching a fair premium over the usual smartwatch contenders currently on the market. That said, the idea behind this watch was simple – TAG set out to deliver the same levels of functionality found in conventional smartwatches, all while adhering to the traditional case and strap finishing techniques found in modern watchmaking. The Connected Modular runs Android Wear software similar to that in smartwatches from LG, Huawei and others, offering features such as mapping, weather, calendar and the other usual suspects. Where it truly soars above the rest is in its well-executed modular (hence the name) design. Its sharply finished titanium case features removable lugs and a quick-change strap system that allows for a wide range of visual configurations. Brushed and black titanium are both on offer, as well as ceramic, gold and even diamond-set bezels to complete the package to your liking. What’s more, the Connected is now available in both 41 and 45mm versions to suit a wide range of wrist sizes.

24 Hours with my TAG HEUER CONNECTED

3 Samsung Gear S3 Frontier

A durable design inspired by diving watches and access to a plethora of apps are just a couple of features that give the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier an upper hand in the segment. Built-in GPS allows for some useful data logging, whether you’re in the backwoods or exploring a new and unfamiliar city, and a powerful lithium-ion battery offers a solid three days of use between recharges. Those familiar with watches in general will also appreciate this smartwatch from a functional standpoint. Its external bezel rotates as means of alternating between its installed apps.

4 Alpina Watches Horological Smartwatch

Alpina and its sister company Frederique Constant (both under ownership of Citizen Watches) recently became the first to offer legitimate horological smartwatches to the market. By thoughtfully placing a smartwatch module within the structure of a traditional quartz watch, Alpina’s offering encompasses the best of both worlds – a classically styled wristwatch still fully capable of fitness and sleep tracking, notifications and other smart functions. The best part? It doesn’t require regular charging, as the brand guarantees a two-year battery life.

Justin Mastine-Frost ( @justinmfrost) is an automotive, technology and lifestyle journalist, and a regular contributor to leading Melbourne-based watch website Time+Tide.