- Simple, clean design
- Best of Both Worlds
- Premium build quality
- Connected Notification
- Simple app interface
- Thick body
- Limited functionality
- No digital display
Smart wear is all the rage these days. No, not dressing up in suits, slacks and tie. Not even an iron pressed shirt paired with a nice jeans. Not those sorts.
The smart wear we are talking about are things like a smartwatch, or some form of clothing that can tell whether or not you have a heart attack at this very moment. It could even be just a fitness tracker that locates you and tracks how far you have come from home or how many steps you take to get to your nearest bar. Those smart digital wear that tracks you when you sleep, or how long you have been seated just to tell you that you are too lazy. Those types of smart wear.
Do not get us wrong, we love a good smart wear. For example we love smartwatches. We reviewed a few that Samsung made; the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and the Samsung Gear Sport. Both are wonderful smartwatches and fitness bands if you ask me. Both are designed to look good anywhere, anytime. They are brilliant stuffs, those two. In short, we really like them (if you cannot already tell).
There is however a problem. These smartwatches do get a little distracting from time to time. There is so much functions within the watch that you could treat it as a completely separate mobile device. You can even play games on the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier (even Classic). They light up whenever you bring the watch close to your face which can be annoying in a cinema hall or even when you sleep. Plus, you have to keep charging them on nearly a daily basis (most days I do that anyway).
The traditional watch has never gone wrong. They are reliable, easy to understand and look at, and function in all the same way. I mean, look at the watches; what user interface? Do you mean; what time is it? Yes, compared to the smartwatches of today the traditional watches are over-simplistic. It becomes a mere jewelry.
So what if you want all the notification functionality of the smartwatch but never liked the look of the smartwatch. You want something that is still elegant as a dress watch while you want the smart functionalities of a smartwatch. Welcome to the era of the hybrid smartwatch, a combination of clever technology and traditional watch-making.
Welcome to the Armani Exchange Hybrid Smartwatch.
Armani Exchange Hybrid Smartwatch
The Armani Exchange brand has been one of the most successful and one of the more prestigious brands when it comes to fashion. The branding is recognisable almost anywhere in the world. They carry a certain aristocracy and elegance to the name. They make watches too, as a part of their holistic fashion solution.
Usually fashion brands do not venture into watch-making. Even when they do, you hardly see any of them getting that hallowed premium watch maker status. Not for Armani Exchange though – they really do make some cool looking watches.
Their watch collection design language often combines sophistication and elegance in one body. They always look bold and tough as well. So imagine when they do a smartwatch, or rather; a hybrid smartwatch.
What you end up with is a pretty looking dress watch that blends in well in any situation or overall wear. It looks at home on the wrist at all times with its gold coloured metal body. It feels like a high quality product, because it is. It is adorned with three other buttons on its right side; one that is in the place of the traditional watch crown, rotates like a crown, but it really is just a button. That gave it its authentic look of a traditional watch as well though so you cannot really tell if it is a hybrid smartwatch that is connected to your smartphone.
The blue leather straps are genuine as well. The leather is real, none of those faux leather thing going on here. The combination of the gold coloured body and the blue leather straps makes the hybrid smartwatch look premium. In fact it looks more expensive than it actually is.
There is one thing I might have to disagree on with the design of the hybrid smartwatch though – its thickness. While we do understand that the thickness could be a necessity rather than a design decision, we still find it a little thicker than it should be. It does not change the fact that this is a premium looking product, and that it looks good. It just looks a little bulkier than it should be in our opinions. If it were to be slightly thinner, it might even enhance the look greatly. Then again we are nitpicking.
The watch face is as simple as it can be. It features the two traditional needles with differing lengths to tell the hour to the minute. The blue face is matches the blue leather straps perfectly which adds to the whole aesthetics of the watch. Then there is a smaller dial that tells you whether you have reached your target step, when you are in alert or notification mode, check your alarm, and when you are in date mode (we mean telling your current date).
Overall it is a very pretty timepiece. It does not have all the usual look of a smartwatch because it half is not. It looks subtle, and bold, and elegant, and sophisticated; all at the same time. It looks like an everyday watch that you can even wear to a dinner gala and still look at home.
Form and Function
The Armani Exchange Watch looks and works exactly like a normal watch; because it sort of is. Telling time is as simple as just lifting your wrist up and look at the regular dials to tell you what time it actually is. There is none of that backlighting and digital display nonsense going on here so you do not have to keep flipping in weird angles to get the time.
But that also means you do not get the same cool apps that you can use to tell heart rates, your stress level and what not. You can sort of control your music, pick up phone calls, and what not via the buttons on the smartwatch. But you cannot see what you control, what you are listening to, who is calling you, or even who is texting you. But you can tell if something happens via the dials.
As mentioned before, you can customise each point of the dial as some form of notification for things like messages, WhatsApp, telegram, calls, Facebook, Twitter, instagram, and all the other sweet stuff. But individual notifications are limited which also means you have to choose what is more important to you within the settings. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it helps you to set your priorities.
The three buttons can be set, via the app to control things like play/pause your songs, pick up calls, launch an app, or to refresh notifications (sort of like reminding you what is on your smartphone). You can customise all of that via the A|X Connected App, which we will talk about a little more later on. The crown, as mentioned, is not really a crown where you can adjust your clock or what not. It is a button for you to rotate between your normal mode, alarm, notification, or your current date.
There is no heart beat sensor, or water content sensor, or whatever nonsense sensor with the Armani Exchange Hybrid sensor though. You cannot tell your real-time heartbeat with it or even your blood pressure level. What it does have is a pedometer that tells you how many steps you have taken in one day. It does track your sleep time and pattern as well so you can monitor how you sleep on an average night.
A|X Connected App
The Connected App, the control panel of the Armani Exchange Hybrid Smartwatch. It is the pinnacle of technology. Kidding, it is not.
It is the app that you need to have when you buy the watch though. It is also the app you need to connect your device to your smartphone as everything syncs through the app. When you first get your watch also you will see that the watch dials are set to 0000 hours. To activate the watch you have to get your watch connected to your smartphone and the time will sync accordingly.
It is also where you control what sort of notifications gets pushed to your watch. As said before there is limited individual notifications that you can set so you have to prioritize the ones that are more important to you.
The app itself is simple enough to understand though. The interface is plenty clean and easy to understand. Fonts are a tad thinner than we expected but against the white background is easy enough to read. Navigating through the app does not take a rocket scientist either, everything is where you expect them to be.
Via the app too you can see how much steps you have taken on that day. With that, you can even set a daily step goal just to make sure you actually walk enough. On the other side you can track your sleep patterns as well with multiple type of graphs to make sense of the sleep data. On the rightmost tab, you can customise the sort of notifications that goes through to the watch. But beyond that you can set what each button does. You can even set one button to be your camera trigger if you like.
Overall the app is as clean as it can be. It may be a tad oversimplified for some. But hey, simplicity never hurts and the watch itself is designed to be as simple as possible anyway.
To Buy or Not To Buy
First things first, the Armani Exchange Hybrid Smartwatch will set you back MYR923. It is not technically as expensive as plenty of smartwatch offerings out there like the Samsung Gear S3 (MYR1,319) or the other Android Wear watches that will set you back MYR900 onward. But it is not exactly cheap either, it is more expensive than a general G-Shock.
Look at it this way though, a decent dress watch might already set you back at least MYR500. For a little bit more than you get a hybrid smartwatch that looks good and has an extra function to it. It can even be you dress watch that you wear everywhere and at anytime.
It is not as distracting as an actual smartwatch too so you have fewer distractions with you. It may not be as informative as a smartwatch though which could be a turn off sometimes; but hey, that is the whole point. Plus you get a really long battery life which, you may not even need to charge virtually ever.
At the end of the day though, it really depends on what you want from your watch. If you are looking for a timeless (pun not intended) style that is still as traditional as ever but still want those smartwatch features, this is the product for you; along with plenty of hybrid smartwatch offerings you get in the market. You have to keep in mind that each brand has their own app interface though. It is a smartwatch in disguise really with a face that never changes. It is the best of both the traditional and modern world technically.
If you want something with more power, something that can work as a wrist calculator and a second smartphone on your wrist though; you are much better off with the Android Wear devices, Samsung Gear S3, or even an Apple Watch. Those devices are choke full of features anyway so you can never stop playing with them. Of course you do sacrifice the watch look a little and they look more like fitness trackers instead at some point; which to be fair they are designed first as a fitness tracker.
Also published on Medium.