Read next: The Pebble Time Round review.
Take a look around at the watches on people's wrists. It doesn't take long to notice a trend: the vast majority of them are round. Watchmaker Citizen even claims that 90 percent of the watches it sells have round faces. But with few exceptions, most of the smartwatches available are square. It doesn't matter if you're paying $17,000 for a gold Apple Watch Edition or $99 for a plastic Pebble, the watchface (or to be more accurate when talking smartwatches, the screen) you're looking at is square. There's some logic behind that: it's far easier to build an interface for a square display than a round display.
But that fact isn't stopping smartwatch makers from trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Though its entire portfolio of watches has so far been comprised of square designs, Pebble is today introducing its first round smartwatch, the Pebble Time Round. The $249 Time Round is not only the first round design from Pebble, it's also the thinnest and lightest watch the company has ever made — at just 7.5mm thick, it makes every other smartwatch look downright chunky. Pebble claims it's the thinnest full-featured smartwatch you can get, and given the evidence, that may very well be true.
The Time Round is all metal, making it more similar to the Pebble Time Steel than the less-costly plastic Time. It has a 38.5mm face, though the round display does not fill it. Instead, a large bezel surrounds the screen, which makes the effective display size much smaller. Though multiple-day battery life has long been a selling point for Pebble (the Time Steel is advertised as lasting up to 10 days between charges), the Time Round will only go for two days before needing to juice up. To compensate for that, Pebble notes that the battery can top up very quickly — a mere 15 minutes of charging can power the watch for a full 24 hours.
Like the other watches in the Time range, the Time Round has a microphone for voice actions (which are available when the watch is used with an Android phone and will soon work with iOS too), a 64-color display with backlight, and splash resistance (though it's not as water resistant as the other models).
Taking a page from Apple, Motorola, and others, Pebble is offering two different versions of the Time Round, one geared toward a male audience, and one toward a female buyer. The overall size and shape of the two versions is the same, but the men's watch has a 20mm strap, while the women's version is 14mm. The 14mm size will also come in a rose gold finish, in addition to the silver and black finishes of the larger size.
To make its software work on a round display, Pebble reconfigured its Timeline to refresh an entire page at a time as you scroll, as opposed to scrolling line by line. That lets text wrap naturally on the round screen and maximizes how much information can be displayed on the admittedly small screen. Pebble is offering an SDK for developers to adapt their watch faces and apps for the new dimensions.
The Time Round might be the most impressive watch Pebble has made yet — it's very comfortable to wear thanks to its thin profile and light weight, and it just looks like a normal watch you might wear on any given day. While the other models in the Pebble Time range give off a Tamagotchi-like vibe, the Time Round is more grown up and classier, without being obnoxious. Many people will rightly criticize the large bezel, but aside from that, there's little to complain about with the design here.
You can preorder the Time Round from Pebble's website, Best Buy, Target, and Amazon starting today, and Pebble says it will be generally available starting November 8th. In the meantime, check out the images below.