The NOWA Watch is a French-designed analog marvel, which focuses on providing minimalism in a smart hybrid shell. The watch has been a Kickstarter since 2016 and has since been backed by over $40,000 of donations from eager backers. Its classy style is one of many things that make this smartwatch unique, alongside its hybrid design that utilizes the best of both smart and analog watches, to create a stunning timepiece.
Kickstarters are becoming increasingly more popular, and this watch is a great example. With smartwatches on the rise, the increase in hybrid watches is adding some colorful competition to the already diverse smartwatch market. While this watch looks the part, can a hybrid smartwatch compare to a full smartwatch experience? Let’s find out in our Nowa Watch review.
Glass display: Mineral with a sapphire anti-scratch coating
Strap material: Stainless Steel Milanese Mesh
Battery: Preinstalled, up to 8-month battery life (CR2025 battery)
Compatibility: IOS 8 / Android 8 and above
Warranty: 24-month warranty
Price & Availability
The NOWA watch Kickstarter is currently accepting pledges for the future release of its watch. The watch was expected to be released in August 2019 but has since been delayed.
The Super Early Bird pledge costs $120/€109 right now and includes one NOWA watch. The Early Bird pledge costs $142/€129, which also comes with a single NOWA watch. You can get further cost savings by choosing the higher priced packages, such as the second Super Early Bird pledge for $218/€198, which comes with two NOWA smartwatches.
These watches are available for pre-order on the Indiegogo website. If you are intrigued by Kickstarter watches, and you want to discover more, check out our article here. Alternatively you can go to NOWA watch’s official website and order from there. Currently the Superbe Rose Gold is sold out, but you can check back for when it’s restocked.
My first impression of this watch was a good one, it was well-packaged, and this particular model came in a bold rose-gold color, which was vibrant and paired well with the stainless-steel finish.
Pairing the watch to my smartphone was also really simple, I downloaded the NOWA app onto my phone, and with a quick push of the button on the side and it paired quickly to my phone via Bluetooth. Once it was connected, I found the app relatively easy to navigate. The app is clear and concise and shows you all the features available and shows you how to use them.
When the watch is connected to the app, it gives you the option to set what time zone you are in, which then syncs to the watch and set the time automatically. Alongside this is the find my phone feature, which works by double-tapping the button on the watch, which causes the connected phone to ring. You can also reject calls by tapping the same button once. The call alert is a feature I found to be less useful. It works by flashing a small LED on the watch screen, which, unless you are looking at the watch, can be very easy to miss.
You can also use Google Fit or Apple Health to track anything from your steps and calories, to sleep duration and quality. These features, when tested, worked well and gave accurate data, all of which can be viewed in the NOWA app, or your fitness app of choice.
If taking photos is your forte, you might enjoy the remote camera control. You can use the button on the side of the watch to snap pictures through your phone’s front or rear camera; the only issue I found is that this feature lacks depth. To take photos, you need to use the camera shutter feature from within the NOWA app, which doesn’t currently allow for any picture adjustments, or anything other than your standard point and click picture taking.
I tested the features of the NOWA watch rigorously over a 2-week period and found that they worked very reliably, with little-to-no issues. I tested the tracking features on regular walks and found that the data was consistent and tracked everything reliably.
The only issue I had was the occasional Bluetooth disconnection, which wasn’t a problem for me, as it wasn’t a regular occurrence.
What’s in the box?
The design of NOWA Superbe exudes class and elegance from inside and out. The watch comes in a stylish black box. Upon opening the NOWA box, I was greeted with the metallic elegance of a large white dial set against rose gold case and Milanese strap – its beauty far exceeding what I expected from seeing the product photos.
Alongside the watch was a microfiber cloth, signed by Eric Gizard, the designer of the Nowa Superbe. The final thing in the box was the manuals, giving detailed instructions on how to set up and use the watch.
Product design is without a doubt the main selling point of the NOWA Superbe watch. Crafted by Eric Gizard, every detail of the watch rekindles our love for a classy timepiece. For the Superbe rose gold we tested, the square-shaped white doesn’t look clunky at all. Rather, it fits perfectly on a small wrist like mine.
The signature “cushion” case is rather thin, and along with the highly polished flat bezel and elegant matt indices, it makes telling time a visual pleasure. The mesh steel strap on the watch is surprisingly comfortable, and pairing this together with a 10mm, ultra slim body, it makes for a pleasant wearing experience.
Another delightful design detail is the back of the watch. The engravings of Eric Gizard designs and a unique serial number oozes a feeling of luxury. Once again, an homage to the timeless tradition of watchmaking. The watch does, however, feel quite a bit heavier than your average smartwatch, but this is due to the designers not compromising the watch’s quality by using cheap materials. Despite this timepiece being on the heavier side, it doesn’t pose a problem because of the watch’s smooth design.
One peculiar design feature that sets this watch apart from a standard smartwatch is that it doesn’t need charging. Since the watch doesn’t need to drive a display or host a more significant number of features like an Apple or Samsung smartwatch, it can run using a standard watch battery.
This hybrid watch is said to run up to 8 months on a single battery, which I consider to be impressive. If you plan to use the watch without the smart features, NOWA estimates the battery life to extend to around two years. Although this sounds convenient, the only downside is that when the battery does need changing, it isn’t very straightforward.
To replace your watch battery, you have to visit a qualified specialist. This may sound like a pain, but given how infrequently you would need to do this, I wouldn’t consider it too inconvenient.
Bands & Accessories
On the NOWA Kickstarter page, it shows various straps, including the Rose gold mesh and Classic Black straps. On their website are replacement straps that can be purchased separately, some of which include leather straps in a range of colors, and two striped nylon-based straps that feature a quick release for those of you who want to swap out bands with ease. Since the watch is a hybrid and doesn’t need charging, it doesn’t come with any other accessories.
Features & Performance
Don’t let the classy analog design of NOWA watch fool you – the tiny blue circle on the watch gives away the hint that it’s more than just a classic timepiece. It comes with some basic smart watch functions as well as fitness tracking.
Having tested the smart features and used the watch to track fitness stats, however, I have come to the conclusion that it’s far from being a fitness wearable.
Pairing with a smartphone is essential for the NOWA watch to work. Although the watch is powered by Swiss Parts Ronda Quartz movement, one needs to sync the watch with a phone to set the timezone and tell time accurately.
To pair NOWA watch with your smartphone, you first need to download the NOWA app, which is easily found on the app stores after a quick search. The app walks you through with a step-by-step guideline, so as long as you follow instructions, the pairing could be done in a matter of minutes.
The app interface is basic but easy enough to figure out, but on the whole the user experience could be more intuitive. It also crashed a few times and occasionally disconnected from Bluetooth for no apparent reason.
While the watch is strong on the hardware front, the software side is a bit lacking in comparison. The hybrid watch boasts a few unique smart features, which can be found in the “Functions” tab in the app. “Remote Shutter” allows you to turn the watch crown in a remote control for photo-taking on your smartphone, while “Smart Alert” supposedly alerts you about incoming calls.
To be honest, I haven’t found the Remote Shutter to be very useful or easy to use. For Smart Alert, even though it’s turned on at all times, I haven’t seen any call alerts on my watch. It could be that my NOWA watch was always outside of the Bluetooth range when these calls happened, but once again, not a very useful feature.
NOWA watch tracks basic fitness stats including calorie burned, exercise duration and exercise distance. You can also set fitness goals in the app which includes Step and Sleep goals. Once you set it up, the “Analyze” function will show graphs of how much of your goals was accomplished by day.
You can turn on Apple Health to sync with the app, but if you are someone who doesn’t always have the phone on you when you exercise, the data could be very inaccurate. Oh the whole, I find the activity tracking of NOWA watch too basic. After a few days of wearing, I started missing my Fitbit Charge tracker to get in-depth exercise and heart rate data.
Who is it for?
You will love the NOWA watch if you…
Prefer a minimalistic design.
Want to go a long time without charging your watch.
Want to own a hybrid watch that captures both smart and analog watch features.
As mentioned above, some people may find a fitness tracker more suitable, whereas a full smartwatch experience may be more suited to another. The NOWA Superbe is one of the best hybrid smartwatches, especially from a design point of view. Below are a few non-hybrid alternatives to ensure that a hybrid watch is best suited to what you’re searching for.
Withings Steel HR Hybrid Smartwatch
One of the best-selling hybrid smartwatches ever made, Withings hit the market big with this timeless watch model. The classy black and white minimalist design with a gender-neutral crowd pleaser. Plus, the connected GPS and heart-rate monitor features are rarely found in similar hybrid watches. If you are feeling fancy, upgrade for the limited Sapphire edition that comes with a premium Milanese Mesh or leather band and an additional silicone band for sports.
Misfit is a strong contender in the hybrid watch space. Not only are these analog-style smartwatches super stylish, the price point is highly competitive too. For the highly popular Misfit Path hybrid watch model, a Rose Gold stainless steel device will set you back just shy of $150. You can track activities, get phone notifications, set smart alarm and movement reminders. Furthermore, it’s swimproof with water resistance up to 50m.
Since Fossil group acquired Misfit in 2015, the watch brand has been going strong in the hybrid smartwatch game. This slim, 36mm hybrid watch boasts a 6 months battery, as well as water resistance up to 30m. You can track steps, distances and calories burned as well as sleep on this quaint device. Furthermore, the three watch crowns can be customized to function however you like.
Whether the NOWA watch is worth buying, all depends on what you’re looking for in a watch. If you’re looking for a rugged, feature-rich fitness tracker that blows away the competition, then maybe this watch isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for an elegantly designed watch that boasts it’s thinnest smartwatch title, that also combines the best of both analog and smartwatch capabilities, then the NOWA watch should be a strong contender.
With pre-order prices starting as low as $120, this watch has a very competitive price tag. The design is excellent and also quite robust, which for this price point, is a sought-after trait lacking in some smartwatches. While this watch doesn’t have extensive features like some smartwatches, that is to be expected because of its hybrid nature.
Despite a scarce horizon of features, the watch performs as expected, and makes up for its feature-deficient design with its stunning appearance. Overall, I’d say this watch is a great way to delve into the realm of hybrid smartwatches without making an overly sizable investment.