If you want a beautiful watch that doesn’t look like a smartwatch, the Classics comprehensively ticks that box. As far as smarts are concerned, it does a pretty decent job as a fitness tracker replacement as well and there’s some decent features that lie inside a really intuitive companion app. The missing notification support seems odd when it does feature on other models in the collection and it’s disappointing that automatic sleep tracking still hasn’t been added into the mix. This pricey fitness tracker inside an traditional watch leaves room for improvement but there’s no doubting that it’s one hybrid we’ve happily strap on again.
- Gorgeous looking watch
- Surprisingly feature-packed app
- Handy WorldTimer mode
- Two year battery life
- Lacks notification support
- No automatic sleep tracking
- It’s not cheap
The Frederique Constant Horological Smartwatch Classics comes from the luxury Swiss watchmaker’s latest collection of hybrid smartwatches, which for the first time includes models for women.
Unlike the new Notify models, the Classics doesn’t offer notification support, instead focusing on discreetly adding fitness tracker features. So it’ll count steps, log sleep and even buzz you if you’ve been inactive for too long. It’s still a WorldTimer smartwatch so you’ll be able to check other time zones with a simple press of the crown.
The iOS and Android-friendly hybrid unsurprisingly doesn’t come cheap. This mens model we tried out costs a not so wallet-friendly $1,295, but that’s pretty much in keeping with the Swiss watchmaker’s philosophy to merge luxurious design with added smarts.
So does Frederique Constant’s latest hybrid get the balance right? Here’s our full verdict on the Horological Classics.
Design and comfort
Just like its predecessors, this is a beaut of a watch. From the 42mm, rose gold plated stainless steel watch case to the brown leather strap with fine yellow stitching, this is every bit the luxury timepiece.
This is just one of the Classics models available with different strap and case variations also on offer (starting from $995), so if this look isn’t for you, there are more options. But we’re definitely fans of this combo.
The navy watch face compliments that gold exterior and the indexes. Yes, we’re gushing about how good it looks, but it’s one of the nicest hybrid smartwatches we’ve had the pleasure of wearing.
It’s a hybrid but you wouldn’t know otherwise. There’s no secondary dial like previous WorldTimer models and it doesn’t carry any extra bulk, making it a really light and comfortable watch to wear during the day and at night. The only real hint of its smarts lie in the small icons hidden within the watch face that indicate when it’s in either activity or sleep tracking mode.
As far as physical features go, there’s a crown that’s not actually a crown in the traditional sense. You’re not going to be able to twist it to adjust the time. It’s been replaced by a button that’s used to switch between tracking modes and to bring the Worldtimer mode into action. If you need a reminder, that lets you briefly check another time zone. It’s a nice touch.
The Classics is water resistant up to 50 metres so it’s fit for the pool. The problem is that we wouldn’t recommend jumping in with that fine leather strap unless you’re happy to have a soggy strap around your wrist for the rest of the day.
Smarts and activity tracking
So we’ve established this is a gorgeous looking watch, now here’s what it can actually do. It’s more of a fitness tracker/watch hybrid than smartwatch because you can’t receive notifications. It uses familiar motion tracking sensors like an accelerometer to count steps, distance and estimate calorie burn. It will also track sleep, but it’s not done automatically, so you’ll need to switch it on from the crown or from inside of the app.
There are also a few other fitness tracker-style features that make the cut, like inactivity alerts, which sends a vibrating buzz to the watch. It’s pretty subtle though and there’s no way to control the strength of that vibration either. There’s also a smart alarm to wake you up, and here the buzzing is a little stronger.
Frederique Constant (left and centre) and Withings Steel HR (right)
As far as accuracy is concerned we put it up against the Withings Steel HRand there was a step count difference of around 500-600 steps. On a day when I ran though it was up to around 2,000 steps. No two fitness trackers are ever likely to dish out identical stats because of the different tracking algorithms used, but I was generally happy on those days where the majority of my active time was from walking.
Sleep tracking was pretty good as well, despite the annoyance that automatic sleep monitoring is not offered, so it’s a lot easier to forget to turn it on before you go to bed. The data compared to the Steel HR data was roughly in the same ballpark. It breaks things down into deep sleep, light sleep and awake time, the kind of metrics we see from most fitness trackers. You can also see total sleep, the time you fell asleep and the amount of times you woke up during the night. Ultimately, don’t expect anything groundbreaking here, but it does do the basics well.
To get things set up and to review your data you need to have the MMT-365 smartphone app downloaded to your iPhone or Android phone. Not the MotionX app, which we initially downloaded that uses an identical app icon. It’s the same app layout, but it will not pair with the Classics watch.
It’s near enough an identical layout to when we first encountered the companion app a couple of years ago. The focal point is the main home screen that displays data in three rings, a system also used by the Apple Watch, but on the Classics these represent your activity, sleep and coach. To sync data, you’ll need to press the crown on the watch, which activates the hands and should illuminate the two or three of the rings on the app (depending whether you’ve had a sleep).
There’s also a breakdown of that data in percentages below the rings. This is a bit like Jawbone’s Smart Coach where you can view daily, weekly, and monthly trends for steps, calories burned and sleep. You’ll also get activity and sleep insights with bits of trivia that’ll tell you things like how much yard work burns calories, or how that five minutes after the end of a dream, you forget 50% of the dream’s content. Not always useful, but interesting nonetheless.
A final screen offers a surprising amount of additional features to tinker with including adjusting step and sleep goals. It also reveals that there’s an additional sleep mode letting you place the watch under your pillow and to automatically turn off sleep tracking after you’ve walked 250 steps.
There are additional fitness-focused features including a stopwatch and BMR calories, which is essentially counting calories including your basal metabolic rate (BMR). These are the calories your body burns at rest, computed from height, weight, age and gender.
It still offers cloud storage to back up your data to restore sleep and activity data, access to the SwisConnect Messenger messaging system and free access to SwissConnect Gym. This is an additional app that offers personalised training and nutritional programs.
The app is really easy to use and also offers some interesting ideas here that would be welcome additions to more traditional fitness trackers that we’ve seen from Fitbit, Misfit, Garmin and company.
Something you don’t need to worry about (for at least two years), is the battery life. The electric movement promises to deliver 25 months worth of battery, so there’s no charging cradle or dock to carry around. When it does finally die, you’ll need to take out the screws on the back and swap in a new battery.