So far, smartwatches have existed fundamentally as extensions of your phone — their primary value is in alleviating the need to pull your phone out of your pocket every time anything happens. But Timex's new IronMan One GPS+ is designed to let you forget your phone at home: with a 3G radio inside and a number of built-in communication tools, it's a fully independent device.
The $399.95 One GPS+ looks a lot like Timex just strapped a chunky, ugly computer on your wrist. It has an always-on Mirasol display just like the Qualcomm Toq, and an icon-based homescreen. Timex says it's every bit as rugged and water-resistant (up to 50m) as its other IronMan models. In every other way, though, it's nothing like anything Timex has done before. It has a 3G radio built in, and can handle basic messaging right from your wrist. It comes with a year of free data from AT&T, after which you'll have to sign up for an as-yet-unannounced plan. With GPS, it can activate a "Find Me" mode with one tap if you get lost, or can live-track you as you run a marathon or just disappear into the wilderness. (Timex's example for its SOS mode in its own marketing materials suggests you could send loved ones "help! I am being chased by a bear.") Timex says it'll get eight hours of battery with GPS enabled, and three days of more regular use.
Timex has a different vision for smartwatches
Like any IronMan watch, the One GPS+ is made mostly for athletes. (Like, for instance, people who do IronMan competitions.) It can track speed and distance, and can upload your workout data to any of a number of online services — again, without needing your phone. There's even 4GB of storage and a Bluetooth radio, so your smartwatch can double as an iPod on your wrist.
Timex has a 160-year history of making watches, which led it to a decidedly different vision for a smartwatch. The One GPS+ doesn't get notifications from your smartphone, doesn't tell you what's next on your calendar. It's a connected wearable intended to help athletes and adventurers be safer, smarter, and just a little bit more connected. It's not complicated, it doesn't require anything else to work. It's not quite like anything we've seen before.
Josh Lowensohn contributed to this report.