I’d like to begin this with a disclaimer. As a fashion writer, the idea of walking into Best Buy with a mind to purchase a fashionable smartwatch hurts my stomach. The ever-warring camps of form and function have never been more at odds than they are in this situation, where smartwatches become increasingly more suited to daily use with no uptrend when it comes to making them presentable enough to be part of your daily outfit. And I do recognize the amazing leaps for humanity that the smartwatch embodies in the grand scheme of things. Over a century ago, Jean-Marc Côté and a group of his peers illustrated their visions of what future-tech would do for the average Joe by the time the millennium arrived. Their visions were not so far off, but a notable snag in their foresight was the size of the gadgets that we’ve come to rely on.
Tiny helpers are nothing new in 2016. Helpful fashion items on the other hand are definitely harder to find. Let’s take a look at a few of the market’s leading smartwatches, and let’s agree that you won’t throw out your dayminder just yet. That said, while the smartwatch market as a whole needs to catch up to fashion, there are a few models that can hold their own.
Apple x Hermes Watch
Apple knows no boundaries when it comes to smart design. From handheld gadgets to desktop interfaces, simplicity and minimalism as espoused by Steve Jobs’ team has become a global standard. So, it doesn’t surprise me that the team behind their Apple Watch knows better than to shroud their tiny helper in an unfortunately plastic band. They are speaking directly to the confident businessperson who knows what they look best in and won’t settle for less. The fact that they went straight for a Hermes collaboration brings a tear to my eye. The rich leather band isn’t anything that necessarily competes with a traditional watch in terms of style, but it is definitely the best option that the burgeoning market of wearable tech has to offer the likes of Wall St. Starting at $1700, the band keeps your watch face touching your wrist so that stats like your heart rate won’t be miscalculated. In addition, you can do anything from skipping through your favourite songs using only voice control to paying for dinner from your Hermes-approved computer.
Samsung Gear S2
The Samsung Gear S2 is definitely not for a formal dresser, but it’s plenty fit for looking cool in a tech-y sort of way. It does come with a variety of band options and has been well reviewed for its functionality, but a vast majority of the band options are plastic, and the face is such a far cry from any traditional watch face that the combination makes it look much closer to a Nike FuelBand than the latest potential family heirloom from coveted time piece crafters like Seagull. The brand is edging its way into the smartwatch game slowly, as most of its marketing is catered to using the watch with your smartphone, not instead of it. It seems like Samsung is aware that this bit of wearable tech isn’t quite up to snuff when it comes to being a viable step into the hands-free world of the watch that does everything. The design alone is proof that Samsung has a bit more work to do before any member of the Gear series replaces your everyday timepiece. A design with a leather band starts around $429.99.
HP Titan Smartwatch Titanium
This smartwatch sticks to a more classic design with an analog and digital interface, and the ability to adjust the time and other settings by twisting the knobs on the side of the watch like any other classic would have you do. I do prefer the smartwatch that does its best to stick to a classic watch formation, though this one is a tad clunky looking. It may suit someone who is used to a heavier timepiece, but after seeing the quality of the leather on the Apple watch, it is hard to stand for anything else in my mind. Plus, at $399.00, the Titan isn’t even an especially inexpensive foray into smartwatch technology. That said, if you’re not ready to drop almost $2k on the Apple X Hermes watch but you want a timepiece that’s both useful and stylish, this is the way to go!