A smartwatch with analogue aesthetics

Cutting-edge technology and classic horology fuse to ingenious effect in the Nokia Steel HR watch

The Nokia Steel HR watch
The Nokia Steel HR watch | Image: Hugh Threlfall

If digital displays had been around for hundreds of years, the more readable and ergonomic analogue readout would be a huge advance. This is why I have always supported the aesthetically cool Withings smartwatches from France, even though the brand had some major quality problems when it started out (one sample it sent of the beautiful Activité two years ago had to be replaced four times before I got a good one). This is Withings’ Steel HR model, which is a clever blend of analogue and digital. The digital window gives a heart rate readout, which the Activité didn’t, and also notifications of messages on your phone. But the time, and the all-important information of how many paces you’ve walked, come up on proper watch dials. Really nice, and the hybrid system works a treat. 


One small thing. Withings was taken over by Nokia last year, so most of the Steel HR models on the market are under the old brand, while a few are now branded Nokia (although mostly the same, bar some changes to the face). The Nokia version seems to be selling for less, and for the moment is a bit of a curiosity, like the Nokia TV some Scottish friends have. Both the Nokia and Withings versions are excellent, attractive and practical.

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