I’ve had my eye on this ultra-stylish Swiss-made smartwatch from the moment its designers, Paris gadget makers Withings, posted a picture on Twitter last summer. Classically simple, it doesn’t look like any smartwatch to date. It’s also unique because, unlike the faux dials on most smartwatches, those slim aluminium hands actually tell the time.
Though its features are limited to fitness, sleep tracking and an alarm, the Activité is an outstanding addition to the game. It’s hard to exaggerate how beautifully it is made. Its attraction, apart from its sublime looks, is its simplicity. That secondary dial on the face is an analogue display of the percentage of your target steps walked per day (in my case, 10,000). This is exceptionally effective for keeping you informed and encouraging you to walk or swim – it works in water too – for those extra few minutes.
The Activité communicates with your iPhone via an app, from which you can set the alarm. The app also gives a readout, the same as other fitness trackers, of your sleep patterns, assuming you don’t mind wearing your watch in bed, which I was brought up to think a touch louche. The app, by the way, I don’t love; it’s confusing and gimmicky. But for day-to-day step-tracking, you don’t need to touch it, which is why the watch is so joyously user-friendly.
Recharging, a downside for full-on smartwatches that receive emails and the rest, isn’t an issue with the Activité; the battery gives six months’ use. This does mean that it’s running on extremely low power, so syncing can be slow and has to be done manually (for now, at least).
There are several straps available and my ever-critical womenfolk tell me the tan leather one is the most stylish, though I’ve mostly been wearing the black rubber sports version. For those who believe God is in the detail, the mechanism for changing said straps is so simple, sure and quick it deserves a Nobel prize for watchstraps.