Smartwatches are a weird market, and part of that is because of how new the concept is. Some want to be a notification hub for your smartphone while others want to replace your smartphone. There’s nothing wrong with any of these concepts, and it’s a big market with tons of roles to fill, but something that’s surprisingly uncommon is a smartwatch that actually tries to be a watch first and foremost.
The Vector Watch is one of the only smartwatches on the market that’s attempting to fill that void, and it’s doing an excellent job at it. It takes its design cues from traditional analog watches, adds a touch of smart technology, and creates a compelling package for anyone that wants a smartwatch that’s more watch than smart.
The Vector Watch comes in two shapes: the circular Luna and the squared-off Meridian. The Luna is the design that I’ve been using, and it sports a more traditional look, especially for a luxury watch.
You can pick a few different finishes for the watch face, including black, steel, rose gold, and champagne gold, and they’ll come with your choice of leather, metal, or silicone bands. The designs and finishes all look extremely nice, and could easily be mistaken for any traditional watch. The Meridian style watch stands out a little more because of its squared look (think the original Pebble watch) but if you’re worried about sticking out with a goofy piece of tech on your wrist, the Vector blends in seamlessly.
The watch face is actually kind of large, which could be a problem for some. It’s not any bigger than other men’s watches, but if you have smaller wrists, it might be too big to wear. It’s certainly larger than almost all other watches made for women, and there’s currently no option to get a smaller design.
The side of the watch features three buttons; the top and bottom buttons are for navigating through watch faces and apps, while the center button is for checking through notifications. The buttons don’t stick out, and honestly just look like a watch crown at a glance.
Performance on the Vector is great, but that’s arguably because it doesn’t really have to do much. It is a smartwatch, with a screen that displays notifications and lights up, but there’s nothing resource-intensive going on here. It scrolls through notifications, it can change watch faces, and you can check news stories and do a few other small things with the handful of available apps. For a smartwatch, it’s pretty limited, especially compared to anything that’s not a fitness tracker.
On the flip side of that limited functionality, battery life is fantastic. Vector claims the watch will last up to 30 days, and although I haven’t had it for that long, it was already on when I opened the box and I haven’t had to charge it yet. The battery is tiny, too, so whenever you do need to charge it, it juices up extremely quickly. It does all of this despite always being on, which is another major plus for the watch.
The backlight isn’t always turned on, but the screen never truly turns off like most other smartwatches. This helps to give off the appearance of being a normal piece of wristwear, but also gives you the functionality of picking out different watch faces and seeing notifications and other features.
You can add a few different data “streams” to the watch face, including steps walked, calories, calendar events, and several other pieces of info. The available store lets you download a couple other things like stock prices and the weather, although they can be tough to read on the dim, colorless display. Apps work the same way, and as of writing this there are only four available third-party applications (The Economist, Cnet, BBC, and ESPN), but you can’t truly interact with any of them. Like the name implies, they only add “streams” to your wrist, so ESPN will only show you a few top news stories for the day. If you want scores or anything, you’ll have to find another app on your phone to send you notifications, then mirror those to the watch.
Out of the available watch faces, you’ll definitely find something that fits your personality. You can pick analog or digital clocks, some of which are more minimal and some show more information than others. All of the faces are customizable if you want to add any streams, too. It’s not a ton of customization, but it’s simple and elegant.
Notification mirroring is simple, and you can adjust which apps are and are not displayed on your wrist. You can also set up silent, vibrating alarms, and track steps, sleep and a few other health metrics. All your bases are covered without adding on too much fluff.
The Vector Watch offers an elegant, but compromised take on a smartwatch. It’s an extremely well designed watch that looks fantastic to wear day-to-day, and you’ll get some smart functionality. If you need something with tons of features, a beautiful color screen, and its own dedicated app store, you probably won’t be happy here. But if you’re in the market for a new watch and don’t mind spending a little extra to get something that looks nice and has some of that functionality, you’re not going to find a better candidate than the Vector Watch.