This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.
Diesel has taken the stunning translucent body and strap design showcased on its best-looking traditional watches over the last few years, and given them a smart makeover, resulting in the beautiful Diesel On Fadelite. Both the case and strap are translucent and come in four different colors, three of which “fade,” hence the name.
An all-translucent version is joined by a blue-to-clear model, a black-to-clear model, and a red-to-black watch. The four are typically Diesel — striking, individual, fashionable, and clearly influenced by the brand’s clothing and watch ranges. The straps have an embossed Diesel logo stamped on them, while the case is made from nylon for lightness and durability. The only button on the case is a large crown.
Diesel has been steadily shrinking the size of its smartwatches, with the On Axial coming in at 44mm, and the new On Fadelite at an even more manageable 43mm. This reduction in case size means the On Fadelite will suit both large and small wrists, and the color choice should attract both men and women.
All this may not sound like much of a difference, but this is very compact for a Diesel watch. The straps are very strong and quite thick, ensuring they’re very secure on your wrist; but the material is sticky and getting the end of the strap through the keeper was something of a challenge. It’s likely to loosen up over time though. The colors are just as hyper-striking in real life as they are in the pictures, but if you’re concerned they stand out too much, don’t be — these are suitable for everyday wear, provided you’re not a shrinking violet.
We’ve always been fans of Diesel’s cool smartwatch dials, too, and there are more interactive ones on the Fadelite, including one with a spinning globe to show multiple time zones. Additionally, there are two new dial faces from the artist Mad Dog Jones. Unfamiliar with that name? You will want to know more after you see the special collaboration model Diesel will release with Mad Dog Jones soon after the standard model.
Mad Dog Jones special edition
The coolest version of the new Diesel On Fadelite will come a short while after the release of the standard models. It’s a collaboration with the artist Mad Dog Jones, a Toronto-based illustrator who creates stunning cyberpunk-style art, and has worked with Diesel on watch dials already. This full-fledged special edition Fadelite is an unusual canvas for his work, but it suits the style perfectly.
Coming in a presentation box, the watch’s case is the same as the standard transparent nylon, all-clear version, meaning it has the colorful rainbow effect finish around the bezel and on the clasp too, but the strap is completely different. Decorated with unique art, it really stands out. The image is also placed “deep” under a translucent layer giving it an eye-catching 3D look. Also inside the box is a soft cleaning cloth, also decorated with Mad Dog Jones art.
Mad Dog Jones was fully invested in the creation of the piece, and requested to work with Diesel and Fossil’s design team on the project, ending up spending two days ensuring the look reflected his work. Aside from the obvious Asian influence, Mad Dog Jones embraces technology. In an interview with The Hundreds — a similarly stylish New York street fashion brand — he said his style was specifically designed to be shared on Instagram, and talked about his art being about, “the human connection with the digital world and it being overwhelming and destructive.”
It’s refreshing to see a smartwatch brand stretch out into this type of unique collaboration, which happens often in the world of traditional watches, but rarely in smartwatches. Seeing such a great result, rather than a boring cross-brand cash-in, is even better. The Mad Dog Jones special edition of Diesel’s On Fadelite will be released around April, shortly after the standard versions.
On Fadelite technology
How about on the technology side? The On Fadelite uses Google’s WearOS software and has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform inside, but only 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage space. This is unfortunate given there are higher-specification versions of the Snapdragon 3100 available. Previous Diesel smartwatches have suffered from small amounts of RAM, especially when using the flashy, highly animated watch faces.
Other features include a heart rate tracker on the back, NFC for Google Pay, onboard GPS, and the ability to connect to either an Android phone or an iPhone. The watch is swim-proof and has Google Fit integration for fitness tracking, plus there is a selection of pre-installed apps including Spotify for music streaming. The models we photographed and wore here were in demonstration mode, or were not connected to a smartphone, meaning we really couldn’t get an idea of how they perform. We’ll know more when we review the On Fadelite.
Diesel will release the On Fadelite in March for $275 or 250 British pounds.
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