Smartwatches and activity trackers are all the rage at the moment, but most of the device on the market at the moment have the tendency of looking more like a gadget than a wristwatch. Particularly for men, a wristwatch can be an important part of your wardrobe; something that should be the sort of things that you don’t mind wearing every day, but is still in keeping with your individual sense of style. It’s understandable that some devices of this kind still adopt the look of an electronic device—that’s very much where the industry’s roots lie—but to appeal to a certain sector of the marketplace that hasn’t yet jumped on the wearables bandwagon, the way a device looks is a consideration that has to be taken seriously. That’s certainly the tact that Withings are making with their new Activité watch, and it looks set to deliver a product that could really take off.
The Activité starts its day when you do, starting your day with a gentle vibration around the wrist—a wake-up method that has been demonstrated to be more effective than a traditional alarm clock. In fact, even while you are sleeping, the device is working away to help you analyse your sleep patterns. You’ll be able to see when you were most restful during the night, as well as tracking how long and how well you slept over a longer period of time—all of which is very important information for anyone who’s wanting to get a full picture of their overall well-being.
Once you start your day, the way that the Activité tracks your exercise is very simple indeed. Certain studies have suggested that thirty minutes of exercise over the course of your day is enough to reap some of the benefits of what you might call a healthy lifestyle. Of course, other things like diet and lifestyle will affect individual cases, but as a general rule it seems that half an hour a day works well as a baseline figure. You can use the Health Mate smartphone application to figure out a plan that works for you, setting your own fitness goals that are fine-tuned to help you achieve whatever you want to, whether it’s to lose a certain amount of weight, build up your cardio or simply maintain your current level of fitness.
However, once this is set up, the Activité offers a very different experience to most other exercise trackers. If you want, you can have access to the same sort of graphs and charts that many other devices offer—but if you’re looking for a more streamlined approach, then you’ll be very well catered for. The second dial on the face of the watch is known as the Activity Dial, and it’s a refreshing analogue solution to keeping track of how much exercise you do over the course of the day. Your goal is to fill the meter up to 100, meaning that you’ve accomplished the daily amount of exercise that you’ve set out to do for yourself. This can be in the form of walking, running or swimming—the Activité will track it all and keep you updated of exactly what you’re doing.
It’s a simple, intuitive system and it’s something that removes much of the time investment of using this sort of device. The focus is simply on the activity itself, not any of the work that you have to do around it in reading up on your own stats. There’s certainly a market for the sort of device that gives you that sort of in-depth feedback—and, if you’re looking for it, you can use the Health Mate app to get that from your Activité—but the focus here is very clearly on a different sort of experience.
There’s a certain elegance in the simplicity of how the Activité goes about tracking your activity, and that elegance definitely carries over to the physical design of the device. This is a very attractive watch, perhaps one of the best looking wearables that we’ve seen thus far. The analogue sensibilities that have inspired the Activity Dial are certainly present in the way that the watch is put together—in fact, you’d be hard pushed to recognise it as a smartwatch at all upon first viewing. A team of French designers based in Paris were behind the way the Activité looks, and that classic sense of style associated with the French is certainly present. The minimalist watch face is both easily legible and rather arresting, and it pairs well with the understated luxury of its calf leather strap.
All of this is to say nothing of the inner workings of the device, which is manufactured in Switzerland—the undisputed home of watchmaking. The analogue elements of the watch are certainly of a very high level of quality, but they’re accompanied by a few modern features that provide a small but meaningful contribution to the overall feel of the product. For instance, the glass face of the watch has a simple but robust touch capability; tap it twice and you’ll be able to see when your alarm is set for. It’s very simple functionality, but it’s the sort of thing really proves useful once you’re using the device regularly.
All in all, the Withings Activité is one of the first activity trackers that really carries with it the feel of a luxury device. Of course, the drawback to this is the fact that it carries with it a luxury price tag of $390 USD. This might sound like a lot compared to similar devices on the market, but it’s important to take into consideration that this is a high-end watch as well as having all the same technical components as some of its competitors. Of course, being an activity tracker the Activité is in direct competition with devices like the FitBit that offer the same sort of functionality for a fraction of the price, but in reality the Activité is targeting a very different audience; and it’s very likely that it was be received very well by that crowd. Everything that this device sets out to do, from being an aesthetically pleasing watch to streamlining activity tracking, it does very capably. If you’re interested in pre-ordering the Withings Activité ahead of its release later this year, you can register your interest on the official Withings web site.