Most wrist-worn activity trackers err toward sporty styling at best and gauche aesthetics at worst. This leaves a wide-open hole in the market for a wellness tracker-cum-smartwatch like the Wellograph. It's available for pre-order Thursday at the dear, dear price of $350, and attempts to bring a bit of civilized grace to wearable-tech fashion.
Does it succeed? I'm not Joan Rivers, so check out the images here and judge for yourself. Personally, I think the Wellograph does look like an expensive chunk of industrial design. It's got a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a posh-looking aluminum body that's nicely machined with subtle, curvy, elegant lines.
Also notice the two machined side buttons. They appear to fit inside the body with zero-tolerance precision. It's a slick look.
There are only 10,000 Wellographs available for an "exclusive" first-round pre-order. If you're game to throw down, you can choose between a Silver Satin design, or a limited-edition Black Chrome look. If you choose the former, you get a brown leather strap. If you choose the latter, your strap comes in black. Sophisticated? Sure. This is not a disposable trinket.
But the screen bezel is quite wide. And while the 168x144 e-paper display uses the same core tech as the well-received Pebble smartwatch, it's still, well... a digital display on a very rectangular watch. No one will ever mistake the Wellograph for a traditional luxury timepiece--because those are usually round and have moving hands.
What I find truly interesting is that the Wellograph is by all measures an activity tracker that's designed to look like a smartwatch. But it doesn't have a camera, it doesn't provide smartphone notifications, and it doesn't run apps. It does, however, come with a 9-axis motion sensor and an LED-based heart-rate sensor to feed data to a bunch of health-tracking functions.
Via retro-cool infographics exposed directly on the watchface--they're sort of Mad Men in their stark, mainframe-era minimalism--you can check out a variety of health reports. You get the day's total activity time; a plethora of calorie-burn metrics; various real-time and historical heart rate stats; and murkier, less transparent data points like your "exercise score" and "fitness age." All these numbers (and more) can also be viewed via Bluetooth-paired iOS and Android apps. But while the Wellograph also reports basic step numbers and includes a stopwatch, it won't reveal sleep data.
If heart-rate data is your thing, then you now have a much more handsome alternative to the Basis B1 Band, which has a bleak design and very dim display. But where Basis puts its science front-and-center, explaining its advanced body sensors and algorithms with a bit of reassuring detail, we really don't know how the Wellograph works, and why we should trust its bio reports. For a wearable aimed squarely at quantified-selfers, that's a bit concerning.
But the proof will be in the pudding once we test Wellograph for ourselves. I'm also interested to see if the device can last two weeks on a charge as advertised. Pre-ordered Wellographs are set to ship this summer. I hope I'm in the first batch of users to give this interesting wearable a spin.