Living a smart life means eliminating the unnecessary: bad news for watches. Approximately every single person in the world already has a phone, which can not only tell the time, but also phone Australia to ask when it is there as well. And then it can access the Internet to find the time shift between here and the Land Down Under.
A basic ability to tell the hour and minute isn’t exactly worth a whole other gadget anymore, especially an expensive one which commands control of an entire limb. (As in, “I can’t reach my hand in there. I’m wearing an expensive watch.” And knowing the Tag Heuer time to within a second is no good when your bathroom is flooding.)
This is why we’ve found five watches that offer their own advantages above and beyond a minute hand.
1. Nano Watches
Our first extra-useful watch actually comes from a useless product: the iPod nano (a.k.a. “how are we meant to use this and why does it still cost so much?”) There was a surge in silly wrist-mounts for this Lilliputian player — most about as exciting as a poorly-crafted piece of reprocessed plastic could be — but we found two examples worth your time.
The first is the awesome Slap bracelet, built from memory metal wrapped in soft silicone. No, it’s not a Real Doll crossed with a Terminator (the silicone isn’t used for fake skin or “implants”), but it is equally cool and feels almost as good to touch. The ruler-straight product slaps and wraps around your wrist. Because it’s the sixth generation, the wear and tear problems in early models have been dealt with.
Where the Slap is fun and funky, Thinkgeek’s leather and steel offering is style itself. The obvious reasons are the leather band linked to laser-cut steel. The less obvious reason is how it’s been laser-cut into a bottle opener…and all of those are awesome.
The idea of function over form is one of an immature mind, someone smart enough to know that style needs substance, but not yet wise enough to know style massively helps substance as well. The Mutewatch is understated elegance, the only true type of elegance.
The blank band is actually a hidden watch, activated by touch and able to slide between clock, timer and alarm modes. Since it’s so terribly déclassé to beep and boop like some kind of commoner’s microwave, the Mutewatch gently vibrates to alert its owner (nay, master, for this is a higher-class creation that is more butler than belonging) that it may perchance be the time sir or madam wished to know of. Even better, the alarm is ended by pinching the screen. Yes, that is the super-exclusive gesture Apple products make such a big deal about. Yes, the Mutewatch really doesn’t feel such an insecure need to brag.
3. Garmin Forerunner
Garmin already had an excellent fitness watch with the Forerunner 405. So, they improved on it with the Forerunner 110. You get to make the number smaller when the new product is smaller, lighter, smarter, and cheaper. The Forerunner comes equipped with a heart monitor, GPS-enabled speed and distance tracking, and as Q would put it (if he worked in watches), “all the usual refinements.”
If you think GPS-for-running is an idiotic joke (“How far do you think I’m going to jog?“), then you don’t understand just how powerfully harsh data motivates the human brain. We might have evolved to outpace saber-tooth tigers, but it’s now cruel numbers that scare us. The harsh honesty of the bathroom scales, for example. Turn this numerophobio to good by using the Garmin Connect site: the watch can automatically upload your training data to a tracking website, where you can see just how much you have (or haven’t) been doing recently, and be spurred to improve.
4. WeWood Ebony
Attention enviro-mentalists: going green does not mean attempting to live like a penny-pinching OCD caveman in the middle of a major metropolis. It means being smarter about things and, in an amazing anti-hippie revelation (most smart things tend to be anti–hippie), it turns out that being environmentally friendly doesn’t necessarily mean looking like an abandoned hedge that’s been chewed on by endangered animals either.
The WeWood watches are extremely cool, as opposed to the almost aggressively unfashionable efforts of most people you’ll find parking themselves in front of bulldozers and/or interesting kinds of snail sitting in the way of roads. Each of the four styles plays on a different grain and color of wood, with ebony unquestionably the most stylish, and for every watch sold they plant a tree. Which is much more useful than hugging one.
5. The Decider
Indecision is the enemy of achievement. If you make a decision and it’s right, you advance. If it’s wrong, you learn… unless it’s lethal. (Protip: Don’t guess about life-or-death decisions.) The Decider is an actual cybernetic attachment, a machine you can attach to your limb and end uncertainty for the rest of time (which it can also tell).
The Yes/No display cycles every second, so simply think of your question and glance at your wrist. It’s always on, where even searching for a coin to flip is excuse enough for the indecisive (or lazy) enough to avoid commitment. It’s even called The Decider, an action movie hero vibe that’ll force you into a decision. The idea is reinforced by how the display is color-coded, so you can’t pretend you saw the wrong thing… or realize that if you did try to pretend, you just made the decision anyway!