Smartwatches are still unproven. Activity-tracking wristbands have retention problems (and one company currently owns that market). So what's in between? For now, it's an analog watch that has some basic activity-tracking functions and long battery life. And Garmin is wise to get in that game.
Garmin today revealed its Vivomove watch, an analog watch that doubles as an activity-tracker, boasts a one-year battery life, and is waterproof up to 50 meters. It looks like a regular watch, with cases available in black, white, rose gold, stainless steel, and gold-toned, but has the usual combination of sensors to track steps and sleep. It also has a "move reminder," designed as a red bar on the side of the watch face. Like Garmin's other fitness watches and activity trackers, the Vivomove watch will wirelessly sync to Garmin's mobile app on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Garmin has made digital watches that can be put into an analog watch face mode, but Vivomove is Garmin's first "real" analog watch. The company, which is well-known for its outdoor fitness devices as well as marine and aviation navigation tech, is clearly taking a page from the playbook of other companies that have made analog activity-tracking watches, like Withings, Fossil, and Adidas-owned Runtastic. And it's a good move.
Garmin already has a core audience of fitness buffs. Now it's trying to fill in the gaps.
Because, while the Vivomove isn't cheap — the polymer sport version starts at $150, and a stainless steel model with leather band creeps up to $300 — Garmin still is primarily known for dedicated fitness devices. That doesn't mean that its other activity trackers have been failures; its Vivofit and Vivosmart trackers have been considered best-in-class, and I still recommend Garmin's Vivoactive watch for people who want a basic fitness watch with smartphone notifications and, oh yeah, multiple days of battery life. But those wearables, well, they don't look great.
The Vivomove is an attempt at better aesthetics, a way to grab people when they're not working out. Maybe you'll wear a more attractive watch to track steps during the day, or out at night. And if you do work out, maybe you'll switch to your Garmin fitness watch for that — and they'll both sync your activity data to the same place.
All of the wearable makers are trying to figure out how to keep people using their products. Garmin already has a core audience of fitness buffs; now it's trying to fill in the gaps. We'll have to try it out to see how well it works.