- 5 March 2015
GUESS announced the GUESS Connect smartwatch at CES 2015 and while we saw it at the Las Vegas show, it was Mobile World Congress where we fell head over heels in love with it.
The fashion company may be better known for its handbags and shoes, but it has been making watches for over 30 years and the GUESS Connect is the result of its most successful design - the GUESS Rigor - joining the wonderful world of smartwatches.
Currently smartwatches really fall into two camps. They are either a miniature version of your smartphone on your wrist - such as the Sony SmartWatch 3 - or they are a standard watch that has some connected functions, like a flashing message symbol but no way of reading it, such as the Cogito.
The GUESS Connect sits in the middle ground between those two options. It's better looking than many of the Android Wear options out there, and it is far cleverer than models like the Cogito. The partnership with Martian Watches means the GUESS Connect is not only sexy, but it's really smart too. So let us explain why it's something you'll want in your life when it comes out in October.
First of all, the GUESS Connect has a fantastic build quality. It's solid in its materials, heavy in weight and overall it's wonderfully designed. The watch casing is stainless steel and the strap is either silicone or leather, depending on the model you select. If you like slim, slender watches then no, the GUESS Connect isn't for you because it is far from this, but for those who like something substantial on their wrist, it's a truly beautiful watch.
As mentioned, the GUESS Connect takes its design from the GUESS Rigor, meaning you get the features of a normal watch, namely the ability to always see what the time is. But an added strip across the bottom displays notifications from your iOS or Android smartphone, connected via Bluetooth. The analogue watch has a 2-year battery life, while the smart element is charged by Micro-USB, giving 3-5 days of life we were told.
You'd think by introducing a random black bar and moving the lines representing 5, 6 and 7, the watch face would look strange. But instead it looks great and it works really well, especially when you realise what the black bar, an OLED display, can do. The GUESS Connect watch works in exactly the same way as Martian Watches, so you'll get the same Martian app functionality, although the app will feature a GUESS skin when the watch launches.
On the right-hand side of the GUESS Connect, there is a microphone, classic rotary dial for changing the time, along with two buttons either side. The bottom button is for navigation of the functions on the OLED display, while the top is for selecting which function you want. On the left of the watch face, there is a speaker, which allows you to issue voice commands and hear answers in return.
Starting with the functions, one press on the lower button will show you the time in digital format, and each following push will pull up status, date, weather, music mode, camera mode, find your phone mode, volume, light, and a do not disturb feature. The volume refers to the volume on the watch when you receive the voice command answers and the light allows you to turn on the small LED light that is situated on the watch face between the 8 and 9-hour hands.
Some are pretty standard features, like the date, but the music and camera modes are interesting. You will be able to change playlists, skip songs and pause or play tracks using the watch itself and the voice command function. Meanwhile, selecting the camera mode will launch the camera on your smartphone and a press of the top button on the watch will then take a picture.
The OLED display shows 40 characters, so if you receive a tweet, you won't be able to see the entire message, but that also means you won't get words scrolling across the bottom for 5 minutes when you receive a 1000-word email either.
Customised vibrations help you distinguish between notifications. For example, you could set a text message to be one long vibration, followed by three short vibrations, while an email could be one short vibration.
The app itself is pre-populated with 18 of the most common apps that deliver notifications, such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and the other culprits, all of which you can set different vibration patterns for, or turn them off altogether. If you want to receive a wrist vibration and information on the display for an app not in the 18 however, Martian told us that once your smartphone gets a push notification for the first time from any app, it will be added to this list, enabling you to customise the watch notifications accordingly.
Cleverly, the GUESS Connect's notification bar will reflect the language your phone is set to and a tap on the display will recall the last notification that appeared, which is useful. You can also use voice command to make the watch read your last email or message, and it worked perfectly when we were shown the feature in our demo. We were in a crowded exhibition hall but we could still hear the message clearly, so we suspect that feature will work like a dream when driving. Of course you can use the voice command element to reply, call or receive phone calls, as well as set appointments or reminders, each of which worked brilliantly from what we saw.
Other features within the Martian app include setting a silent alarm, turning the text that appears on the notification bar to bold so it is easier to see in sunlight, as well as altering the vibration intensity. If you are walking around, you'd probably want higher vibration intensity than if you were in the cinema for example.
The GUESS Connect will come in 41mm and 45mm size options, which is already a step in the right direction as it means women with smaller wrists get a watch that looks good on them too, but there are also five different styles.
Combining the GUESS style with the Martian Watches tech is a great move and one that seems to work seamlessly. The design of the GUESS Connect is one we really got on board with, but seeing what it will be able to do in the flesh has won us over and we can't wait to review it in full. Our first impressions are that the GUESS Connect is a stunning smartwatch that is a true leader when it comes to combining fashion and tech.