It's safe to say we're still quite early into the era of the smartwatch. Of course the Apple Watch was revolutionary, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. And it's expensive, especially knowing that a newer and better model will be released just as soon as the current one is settling in on your wrist. I do think it's incredibly cool technology, but I'm a watch guy, so for me it's only technology and not horology. But then there's this sort of gray area of semi-smart timepieces where technology meets horology, and we're starting to see that even from high end brands like Breitling and Tag Heuer.
Included in this semi-smart area, but much more affordable, is the Tianba T-Watch. Tianba is a brand from Shenzhen with a 30+ year history, and according to their website, were one of the earliest producers of quartz watches in China. Tianba also produces a wide range of mechanical watches with charming names like The King, The Brave and The Beauty. This watch I've been wearing is very classic in appearance with its clean white dial and rose gold finish on the case, hands and buckle. This one came with a soft brown leather strap, but I've seen a few other versions including polished stainless steel bracelets and another with a very attractive milanese band. The case is 40mm x 11.8mm, and the sapphire glass must have some quality anti-reflective coating because the visibility is great from almost any angle.
After downloading the app, the setup was simple. Pushing and holding the crown for 3 seconds will activate the Bluetooth 4.0, which you can then sync to your android or IOS devices. There are various smart functions which can be set up from the home page on the app. The activity tracker allows you to set a target goal, and tracks your steps along with the distance and time you spend walking. It also gives you an estimation of how many calories you burned based on your age, weight and height, which you enter on your profile page.
Other functions include notifications for phone calls, messages, alarms and to let you know when you've gone out of range of the phone. The vibrating mechanism will alert you of notifications, and a handful of symbols illuminate from behind the dial to let you know what the notifications are. You can also access your phone's camera and use the push button crown to snap a shot.
Setting the time takes some patience and this is where things got a bit tricky for me. Instead of being able to use your finger on the app to move the dial hands, you need to match the hands on the display with the hands of the watch, then push the Set button. Difficult to explain, but easy enough to understand once you're in the app. The dial hands will adjust themselves to match the time on the phone, but only in a clockwise motion. So if you need to set the time back one hour, or one minute, you'll need to wait while the hands spin around clockwise one minute at a time. This can take some time, so do what the app advises you to do and "Please Wait Patiently!"
The Swiss quartz Ronda movement will keep you on time, and the battery life is supposed to be more than a year. After you get the time and notifications set through the app, the watch is quite nice on the wrist. Sleek and charming; the constant red and green notifications on the dial will put you right in the Christmas spirit :) And even if you aren't using the watch for its smart functions, its a very fashionable watch on its own.
If you're interested and can access TMall, visit their shop here and pick one up for 1198RMB, or about $185 for the version pictured here. Stainless steel on the milanese band is actually about $30 cheaper. The Tianba website is here.