Apple Watch was meant to be a fashion product. It claimed to be in with the in crowd, and know where the in crowd goes. But did Apple's wearable really deliver on that? It only really has one look, if you ignore the two size variants and plethora of straps and finishes. Vector comes in square and round versions, with three basic "styles" and a choice of straps, with 12 varieties in all and is, in many ways, more a watch with some tech in it, than some tech that looks like a watch.
Launched in London last night at a suitably swanky venue filled with beautiful people…
being entertained by unusually stylish DJs…
Vector is a classic "affordable premium" product (pricing ranges from £219/$249 to £449/$499), targeting stylish watch wearers who want some smart functionality, rather than techies who want a wearable.
Casings are stainless steel in various finishes, straps are silicone or leather of varying plushness and, yes, there are both round and square options.
The USP is a 30-day battery life, achieved via a low-energy screen not unlike that on the Fitbit Surge. From our experience of it, the screen is never amazing to look at but it is consistent, being visible in both low light and sunshine, and seldom outright poor.
Features are limited at launch, with the main standouts being step and sleep tracking, discreet notifications that can be seen and dismissed with flicks of the wrist and similarly discreet diary appointment notifications showing around the edge of the faux-analogue watchface. You can also access world time, alarms, contacts and other basics.
However, an open-source approach means app designers can easily take an existing service - Evernote was referenced specifically at the launch - and convert it to an app that works with Vector's scaled-down interface, with the data streamed from your phone via Bluetooth LE. There's no Wi-Fi or 4G, but that's the price you pay if you only want to charge up once per month.
There's also no touchscreen, so control is via buttons and accelerometer.
Our initial verdict is that Vector's watches offer a range of stylish looks and an elegant approach to notifications, at pricing that's not insane. They feel like a good quality man's watch, in terms of fit and heft, which is not something that can be said of many wearables. This makes sense when you realise that the brand's CEO Joe Santana used to be at Timex, while the product design was overseen by Steve Jarvis, who used to work on Nike Fuelband.
Once their guys have figured out how we can sync a pre-release model to our phone, we'll bring you more of a proper hands on.
Vector Performance (sporty), Contemporary (stylish) and Classic (slightly more upmarket, old-school version of Contemporary) launch in September for compatible iOS, Android and Windows phones.
Pricing is from £219/$249/€299 (Performance and Contemporary) and £349/$399/€499 (Classic). It'll be available from here.