It’s hard to imagine, but the best smartwatch you can buy isn’t from Apple, or Google, or Microsoft, or Samsung.

It’s from tiny Pebble, a hardware startup that so captured the hearts and minds of gadget fans in 2012 that it shattered Kickstarter records on its way to millions in crowdsourced funding. The first Pebble watch, released almost exactly a year ago, finally made the smartwatch accessible to regular people. At $150, it’s almost cheap, it works, and it doesn’t try to do too much: it flashes notifications about texts and emails and phone calls from your smartphone, and if you’re feeling particularly saucy you could control music playback on your wrist. Compared to wildly ambitious but unfocused competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Metawatch, the Pebble is an object lesson in doing more with less.

There’s only one problem: it’s kind of ugly.

The new Pebble Steel changes that. For $249 you get virtually the same internals as the original Pebble inside a tighter, smaller metal case that comes with metal and leather bands. There’s also an all-new app for iOS and Android, and a new Pebble app store that makes customizing your watch easier than ever. The little company at the front of the wearable market is pushing forward with design and software while it still has the lead — but the big question is whether it can move fast enough to keep ahead.