Review: Garmin Vivomove, a stylish analog watch for the health conscious
Mechanical watch lovers may not be so keen to join the technology craze, but there is a solution. Analogue or hybrid smartwatches are traditional looking timepieces that combine style with behind the scenes digital smarts.
Vivomove is Garmin’s entry in this ‘semi-smart’ watch space. The company’s stylish timepiece combines a traditional analogue design with function, monitoring fitness activity and reminding users when they’ve been inactive too long.
Essential reading: Which Garmin fitness tracker should you buy?
CSS Insight projects a large proportion of future wearables growth will be driven by a rise in smart analogue watches. Existing manufacturers are expected to broaden their product offering, while traditional watchmakers will enter this space as they try to cling on to their share of the global market.
Mostly known for running watches and fitness trackers, Vivomove is like nothing Garmin has made before. But is the company’s first stab at a stylish analogue watch a worthy entry?
Features and software
Just by looking at it, you would never guess Vivomove is anything more more than an elegant, classic looking timepiece. Yet discreetly housed in the casing is technology that keeps tabs on your daily activity including steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep.
With no heart rate monitor, smartphone notifications or any sort of vibration, Vivomove is more about style than activity tracking. The good news is, it doesn’t disappoint in that department. Not by a long shot.
The watch is stunningly well crafted. The simplistic, sophisticated look actually appears more out of place in the gym than in the board room. But if you are looking for more comprehensive activity monitoring you will need to look elsewhere.
The main part of the device is stainless-steel topped with glass. At 42mm in diameter and 12mm thick, this is not exactly the smallest wearable out there. However, given its great design it doesn’t feel cumbersome. It is also light enough so you can forget you are wearing it, but not too light to feel like a cheap fitness tracker.
Vivomove can be as fancy as you want it to be due to a variety of interchangeable models. The cheapest of the bunch is the Sport version which comes in black and white options with a 20mm silicone band secured with a solid metal buckle. Classic comes with the same options but with leather straps. I tested out the more upscale and more pricey Premium, that sports a white watch face and a leather band. This version also comes with a black watch face option.
There is no touchscreen and the traditional crown acts as a sync button. The circular watch-face is cleverly designed and features two small e-ink screens that allow you to view your step progress and inactivity at a glance. The blue bar indicator on the left shows how you are progressing towards your daily fitness goal, while the red one on the right knows if you have been sitting on the sofa for too long. Walking around for a few minutes will make it reset again.
Unfortunately syncing is not automatic, and you do need to press the crown. But the watch connects very quickly and I have not experienced any problems transferring the data. Vivomove can store up to three week’s worth of fitness stats on the built-in memory so there is little chance your data will get lost if you don’t remember to sync on a daily basis.
The timepiece is water-resistant down to 50 metres, meaning you can strap it on and leave it on regardless whether you are on dry land or in the water. This depends, of course, on the watch strap you are wearing. You probably would not want to wear the leather band in the pool or shower.
Designed to be low-maintenance, the wearable’s battery life is great too. Vivomove lasts a full year on a single, replaceable coin-cell battery. Given my limited time with the watch its impossible to vouch for its battery life, but it was a refreshing change not to have to worry about charging a device.
Here it is next to the Withings Steel HR.
Features and software
In terms of fitness tracking, you can expect to receive the basics from Vivomove and nothing more. The wearable keeps tabs on steps, distance, calories and sleep. There is no GPS so distance is estimated from standard accelerometer data.
Although the fitness features are fairly limited, the watch does a good job at tracking activity and sleep. You can view the daily step count via the e-inc screen on the watch face, but for everything else you’ll need to sync with the app. Actually, you can only see the move bar on the watch-face, not the actual number of steps. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, as the watch is designed with simplicity in mind. Garmin uses the same Connect app across all of its fitness devices and Vivomove is no exception.
Essential reading: Top hybrid watches of 2017, the best of both worlds
Rather conveniently, all activity tracking is automatic. Simply slap the watch on your wrist and let it quietly go about its business keeping tabs on your activity and sleep. You won’t get any details on individual activity though. The app simply dishes out colour coded charts to give an insight into sessions where you moved quicker than others. But it never goes beyond this. Although it is water resistant, the watch won’t tracking swimming either.
Garmin Connect is not the most user friendly or prettiest app out there. That said, it is one of the most comprehensive. With enough hunting around, you will probably find what you are looking for. If you are not a fan of the smartphone app, you can use the web platform instead, which is just as feature-packed. And just as difficult to navigate.
The app and web dashboard allow you to track your trends, join online challenges or see how you stack up against friends. Detailed graphs show your step count, active time and calories burned. This is all broken by time so you can look for seven-day and month-long trends and patterns.
You will also receive smart wellness insights personalized to help you reach your goals. This has limited use but is a nice touch in any case.
Sleep statistics show not only how long you’ve slept, but also show phases of sleep including light sleep, deep sleep, awake time and movement. This all seems reasonably accurate. I don’t really like to wear fitness trackers in bed, but despite its fairly large size the Vivomove felt comfortable enough to wear through the night.
As mentioned, because of the stripped-back approach, the wearable lacks in the smartphone notifications department. This watch is focussed on tracking your activity rather keeping you connected to the rest of the world. Perhaps this is something Garmin can aim for for the next version of this watch. Along with vibration alerts.
Its no secret I am a big fan of the Vivomove’s design. Its definitely a looker. That said, if you are after comprehensive fitness features, this is not the watch for you. The device is not targeted at hardened fitness fanatics.
In a sense, wearing Vivomove is just like wearing any normal watch. But one that seeks to get you moving more.
This low-maintenance timepiece was designed with simplicity in mind. It requires minimal interaction from you, its water resistant, has a great battery life and tracks activity automatically. And it does all this in a delightfully understated manner.
Garmin has definitely managed to get a lot of the things right and achieve a nice balance between tech and tradition. If you want something that adds basic activity monitoring to a stylish, conventional looking watch, Vivomove is definitely worth serious consideration.
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