Smartwatches, still in their nascent stages, are beginning to grow into adolescence. The next-gen Android Wear is miles (in most cases) better than the first; Withings and Wellograph are both making stylish smartwaches that are so unassuming they look bare (but actually have a ton going on under the hood); and, oh yeah: the Apple Watch.
Now HP, Gilt, and Michael Bastian have combined forces to release a new smartwatch called the MB Chronowing, wristwear that gives you access to weather, email and text notifications, social media, stocks, and calendar reminders.
The watch is more fashion statement with simple functionality, more Wellograph than Android Wear (it doesn't come with, say, Google Now to talk to and open on your phone). But the statement is strong: a 44mm stainless steel case with a multi-layered finish and inlaid button controls make it appear as though it's a regular watch, but on the screen is all you need to know in any given instant, like the weather, what's on tap for today, and how many emails you've received. The time itself is imbedded in in the upper left of the screen as a simple analog ticker. It comes with three interchangeable straps, including brown leather, black rubber, and green nylon, ideal for changes in setting, and the battery is supposed to last to up to 7 days, unlike many smartwatches you have to charge every day. It's also cross-platform and will work with both Android and iOS devices (no word on a Windows phone device yet), controlled in an app via Bluetooth.
As Michael Bastian, the product's designer, says, "It’s smart, but also good looking.”
It takes a while to charge up - about three hours, according to the manual. I found this to be accurate. Once it did, though, it paired with my phone and I could use the Chronowing app to specify the watch face and notifications I'd be getting. I could view up to three missed emails (I set it that way), the latest info on Apple and HP stocks (but you can obviously set more options in the app), and more.
There aren't many fitness features to it except a stopwatch. In that way, the watch is very utilitarian and bare bones - a great step when it comes to marrying a high-end watch style with some smart functionality. Like the forthcoming Apple Watch, it's part of the movement of putting something on your wrist you would actually want to wear.
The new MP Chronowing is priced at $349, and a special black edition at $649. They can be found here.