Movado Connect review

Minimalism is key for the stunningly simple Movado Connect

The Movado Connect looks too good to ignore.
The Movado Connect looks too good to ignore.
The Movado Connect looks too good to ignore.

Highs

  • High-quality watch faces
  • Sleek design
  • NFC
  • One-day battery life

Lows

  • Expensive
  • Display isn’t tough enough for price
  • iOS functions limited

Regardless of what a smartwatch can do, it should look good on your wrist no matter what. That’s the thinking from all the fashion brands now working with Google and Qualcomm to build Android Wear smartwatches. The Connect, from Swiss watchmaker Movado, lacks the bells and whistles of competitors from Huawei and LG, but what it lacks in brains, it makes up in personality. In our Movado Connect review, we found a smartwatch that will tug at your heartstrings, even if your heart will sink when you see the price.

Lightweight, gorgeous, and comfortable

The Movado Connect is rather simple and plain, but that’s why we like it a lot. The entire front of the watch is flat, with a thick, circular bezel around the 1.39-inch AMOLED screen. It’s subtle, not flashy like the gemstone-packed Michael Kors Access Sofie. The lugs slope down, and they sit comfortably, without any excess space between the strap and the wrist.

There’s just one button on the Movado Connect, which takes you home with a tap, or triggers Google Assistant when you hold it down. It makes for a far more minimalist aesthetic than three-button watches, but we wouldn’t mind an extra programmable shortcut button, or a rotating crown like on the Michael Kors Access Grayson. A rotating crown allows you to scroll through the Android Wear interface, but with Movado’s watch you’ll have to utilize swiping with your finger.

At a first glance, a lot of friends and coworkers said they thought the watch was too big. After wearing it on the wrist, they double backed, and said it wasn’t chunky at all. The bulk largely comes from the silicone strap that’s wide and thick. It’s incredibly soft, comfortable, and doesn’t attract a lot of dirt, but it definitely looks out of place on smaller wrists. Sadly, there’s no interchangeable bands here, so you’re stuck with the version you purchase.

Movado offers five versions of the Connect: The basic one has a gray stainless steel case and silicone strap for $595. Then there’s the gold ion-plated stainless steel case, and the dark gray ion-plated stainless steel case for $650 each (both with silicone straps); and finally a dark gray ion-plated stainless steel case and ion-plated stainless steel bracelet for $995, which also comes in silver (and silver strap) for $895. The difference is largely in ion-plating for the more expensive models, which makes the stainless steel a little tougher; and the strap is a stainless steel bracelet over silicone.

For the price of the Movado Connect, we would expect stronger glass covering the display, which we already managed to scratch after a brush with a wall. Corning Gorilla Glass 3 has its limits, apparently. It should fare better with water thanks to an IPX8 water-resistance rating, which means your watch can be submerged underwater a little more than 3 feet.

The Movado Connect is one of the few smartwatches I’ve received genuine positive compliments from just commuting around New York City, and it’s partly why we think the price may be justified. It doesn’t look like most smartwatches at all, and it pulls us into wearing it again, and again.

Sharp display, solid performance

Our favorite part about the Movado Connect is how uncluttered it looks. It’s simply the screen, with a black bezel around it. It’s cleaner than competitors like the Huawei Watch 2, for example, where we found the numbers surrounding display distracting.

Watch faces are an important part of the smartwatch experience, and Movado’s pre-installed choices are beautiful.

The AMOLED 1.39-inch display offers a surprising high-resolution at 400 x 400 pixels. Watch faces and apps look sharp and colorful, and the screen gets bright enough to see in direct sunlight. When you’re not looking at the screen, the watch face goes into a monochrome ambient mode to save battery.

Watch faces are an important part of the smartwatch experience, and Movado’s pre-installed choices are beautiful. They all carry the iconic Movado logo on the top of the screen, and there’s a solid variety of choices: From sporty and digital to analog and colorful. Thanks to Android Wear 2.0, you can customize the colors of these watch faces, and even add “complications,” subdials that offer information at a glance, such as the number of steps you’ve taken.

Our favorite watch face is Day to Night, which changes the background color to the color of the sky as the day transitions from morning to night. If none of these watch faces are for you, there’s always a handful of choices directly from Google installed, and the Play Store lets you install and make watch faces of your choosing.

Performance is generally good on the Movado watch. Like nearly all Android Wear smartwatches, it’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor, but it only comes with 512MB of RAM. Many smartwatches nowadays pack around 768MB of RAM, and the Movado Connect would likely have benefitted from the slight bump. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor is also fairly dated, so we wouldn’t mind seeing a new chip — though that may come next year.

But what does that all mean for you? Transitions are smooth, swiping through apps and notifications is fast, and apps open relatively quickly, but we’ve noticed occasional stutters. These aren’t common, but they can be frustrating when they occur.

An improved Android Wear experience

Android Wear 2.0 is a much-improved version over the original, first iteration. The user interface sticks to darker colors so your watch doesn’t stand out in dark environments, and it doesn’t take more than a swipe and a tap to get to your settings. The original operating system was convoluted, where it took multiple swipes and taps to accomplish a task.

Smartwatches have two primary purposes: The ability to change your watch face whenever you want; and the option to receive and act on notifications. Android Wear handles the first well. You can swipe from the left or right of the watch face to find other preset watch faces, like a quick-access library. You can set a handful of your favorite watch faces here so you can quickly swap to them. A gear icon under each watch face lets you customize the color, and add any subdials with Complications should you want some.

Movado Connect text
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Notifications promptly show up on the watch, and swiping them away will remove them from your phone’s notification drawer. Tapping on a notification will let you see the full content, and depending on the app, you’ll be able to interact with it (liking a message, replying, etc.).

There are four ways to respond: Voice input, which lets you talk to your watch and it will transcribe what you say; emoji scribble, where you can draw an emoji and it will find the appropriate one; a keyboard, where you can either type or swipe to use; and Smart replies, which use on-device machine learning to whip up quick phrases you can respond with based on the conversation. The keyboard also lets you scribble letters one-by-one. Our favorite is swiping with the keyboard, or the voice input if we’re not in a public setting.

But we’ve largely come to use Android Wear to take a look at notifications, rather than interacting with them. For the most part, swiping away a notification is the only interaction we perform. For anything more, it’s usually faster and easier to take out our smartphone. This isn’t always the case, such as when our hands are occupied.

The Google Play Store is a new addition with Android Wear 2.0, allowing you to download apps on the watch itself without having to install new apps on your phone. There’s 4GB of internal storage on the watch, so you can store music to stream to Bluetooth earbuds on the go.

Google Assistant lets you quickly answer questions without having to pull out your phone. You can either say “OK Google,” or press and hold the button. The Assistant generally answers most of our queries fine, but it’s not as powerful as the Assistant on your phone. For example, it has zero smart-home control functionality.

Google’s preinstalled Fit app can track basic fitness activities, such as steps walked and active minutes, but Fit Workout can automatically detect certain activities like walking, running, biking, strength training, and more. If you prefer another fitness app, the Google Play Store has a variety such as Strava, and Runtastic.

The Movado Connect also has a near-field communications sensor (NFC), meaning you can use it to make bump-to-pay payments via Android Pay. It’s like Apple Pay, and it works at any store that has NFC terminals.

All this functionality is a little more limited when the watch is paired to an iPhone. You can’t respond to iMessages, not all apps work well such as Facebook Messenger, and you need to keep the Android Wear app open in the background to continue to get notifications on the watch. Unsurprisingly, Android Wear works best with Android devices, but at least iOS users have the option to use it.

Day-long battery life

We were never dissatisfied with the Movado Connect’s battery life. We generally found it around 40 percent after returning home at 6:30 p.m., and on late nights it would be close to dying at 11:30 p.m. This is largely with only waking the display and interacting with notifications. Your battery life will be less if you stream and play music from the watch.

We were never dissatisfied with the Movado Connect’s battery life.

We’re not fans of the charger, which snaps onto the back of the watch, but you have to line it up with the gold charging pins. It should be simpler, where you can simply plop it down on a dock, or have a wireless charging pad.

Most smartwatches have an average day-long battery life. We’ve gotten used to charging it every night when we return home, but if you’re expecting far longer battery life, you may want to look at the Huawei Watch 2, It has a micro-app that can turn off Android Wear to offer an analog watch face that will stay on for about 25 days.

Warranty, price, and availability

Movado offers a two-year warranty from the date of purchase, and this covers defects in workmanship and materials. Accidental damage is not included.

The Movado Connect is more expensive than most Android Wear smartwatches, even those by other luxury brands. It starts at $595, but can go all the way up to $995. You can purchase it now from Movado’s website.

Our Take

The Movado Connect doesn’t have GPS, a heart-rate monitor, or cellular capabilities, but it looks too good to ignore.

Is there a better alternative?

Yes, there are plenty of Android Wear smartwatches to choose from, luxury brand or not. Our favorite in terms of functionality is the Huawei Watch 2, which has GPS, a cellular model, a long battery life, and a heart rate monitor — all for a starting price of $300.

If the Huawei Watch 2’s design isn’t up your alley, then check out the Diesel On Full Guard or the Michael Kors Access Sofie (for women) and the Michael Kors Access Grayson (for men). They all offer similar functionality as the Movado (minus Android Pay), but they’re around $300 cheaper.

If you’re an iPhone user, we recommend the Apple Watch as you’ll naturally get all the major features you want in a slim case, with perfect functionality with your iPhone. The Apple Watch Series 2 is no longer being sold by Apple, so take a look at the recently-announced Apple Watch Series 3.

How long will it last?

The Movado Connect will likely last a little more than two years, but you may not get software updates after that time has passed. Your device’s battery life will also begin to suffer and degrade, so don’t expect this watch to live on forever.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The price is high, but if you’re in the market for a smartwatch and you like the look of the Movado Connect, go for it. Choosing a smartwatch is similar to choosing a watch: It’s a personal decision, and the watch has to tug at your heartstrings. It did for us. If you want more functionality over form, go for the Huawei Watch 2 or the Apple Watch if you have an iPhone.

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