Kronaby Hybrid smartwatch: Our first take

Sapphire, steel, and sophistication: Kronaby gets the smartwatch recipe right

A hybrid watch for anyone who values stylish design and premium materials over extensive, and often useless, smart functionality

The hybrid is the best thing that could have happened to smartwatches. It bridges the gap for people who want a traditionally-styled watch, and also one that has smart functionality, while freeing the maker from the design constraints presented by the need to incorporate a touchscreen. Kronaby, a newcomer to the industry that has been working on its watch since late 2015, has launched four hybrid watches that crucially incorporate the best materials used in traditional watchmaking, then combines the result with smart features controlled by a custom, easy-to-use app.

Each Kronaby model has a stainless steel body, water resistance of 10 ATM, and sapphire crystal glass over the watch face.

Each Kronaby model has a stainless steel body, water resistance of 10 atmospheres, and sapphire crystal glass over the watch face. The last is probably the most important, and ensures the Kronaby watch looks and lasts like a premium traditional watch. Sapphire glass is scratch resistant and has a wonderful sheen to it, reflecting light in a very attractive way. There’s a choice of metal bracelets or leather straps to complete the look.

The sophisticated Sekel, Kronaby’s mid-range model, caught our eye. It features a polished stainless steel body with a black face that has been machined to catch the light beautifully, but it doesn’t have numbers around the face allowing for a great, clean look. The leather strap was comfortable straight out of the box. We tried on one that had been worn before, and the leather had softened up nicely, and easily wrapped around our wrist. For comparison, we also slipped on a metal bracelet, but it caught the hair on our arm instantly. We’d definitely opt for the leather here.

Easy to use app

Lightweight but still solid, the build quality felt exceptional across all the models we handled. The Kronaby Sekel was perfectly sized, but if some consider it too large, the cheaper Nord and Carat models are more suitable for smaller wrists. The most expensive Apex model is almost identical to the Sekel, but with a different face design. There are three buttons on the side of all Kronaby watches, and their functions are customizable through the app.

Like the watches themselves, Kronaby has designed and produced the app in-house, with the intention of keeping it simple, usable, and upgradable in the future. It’s very easy to use — all customisable functions rely on a drag and drop interface, so it’s easy to alter the function of each button regularly. These include checking your step count, showing the date, controlling music, or taking a picture on your phone. The experience was very similar to Fossil’s hybrid smartwatch app, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

kronaby hybrid smartwatch first impressions review kronabyhybridsmartwatch 68
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The watches track your steps and deliver notifications based on vibrations. This can be customized according to who you want to receive alerts from, so you know who is getting in contact without looking at your phone. The app works with Android and iOS, and Kronaby plans quarterly updates adding in new features, or tweaking existing ones. Sleep tracking, which isn’t included in the first release, is a possible addition in the future. But the emphasis is on simplicity, so don’t expect masses of new gestures or button press combinations to learn when new features do come.

We used the app on two different phones, saw it in action on a third, and it remained stable throughout. It alerted us when the connected phone was out of range, and it took just a few seconds for new functions to be applied to a button. Apps can be the hardest part of any connected product, but the company founders worked in technology before starting Kronaby, which has paid off here.

Stylish, but expensive

Kronaby’s dedication to getting the app experience right, and its commitment to using premium materials in the build, has translated into a relatively high price. At launch, our personal favorite Sekel model will cost 500 euros, or about $540. That’s substantially higher than hybrid watches from Fossil, including the $300 Emporio Armani model we reviewed recently. The cheapest Kronaby is 400 euros, or about $430, and the most expensive is 600 euros, or $650.

You’ll need to really love the design to pay out for a Kronaby watch. Thankfully, we’re happy to say that if you do, you’ll like the product when it’s on your wrist.

Highs:

  • Wide variety of designs
  • Sapphire glass
  • Easy to use app

Lows:

  • Expensive
Product Review

The Oaxis Timepiece is minimalist in style, maximalist in frustration.

The Oaxis Timepiece wants to be a traditional watch, a fitness tracker, and a basic smartwatch all-in-one. That’s a tall order, despite it sounding quite simple, so can the sub-$180 wearable manage to pull it off?
Deals

Amazon discounts Garmin, Fossil, and Apple Watches for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and if you’re after a great gift for that special techie in your life, a smartwatch might be just the ticket. We’ve sniffed out the five best smartwatch deals available on Amazon right now.
Wearables

Find the best, most stylish smartwatch for him this Valentine’s Day

Looking to buy a smartwatch for someone this Valentine's Day? If you're buying for a man, then here are our top picks out of the many available. We've selected them based on style and looks, rather than solely the technology inside.
Wearables

Win your gal's heart (and wrist) with the most stylish smartwatches for her

If you're looking to buy that special woman in your life a smartwatch this Valentine's Day, we're here to help. Here are our top picks of the best smartwatches on the market for ladies. We have something for any style or budget.
Computing

Cryptic video teases Microsoft’s next-generation HoloLens 2 headset

Though not revealing much, a roughly 42-second long teaser video was sent out by HoloLens inventor Alex Kipman on Twitter ahead of a planned press event at Mobile World Congress on February 24.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for February 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Wearables

To be blunt, the Vuzix Blade smartglasses just don’t cut it

We tried out the Vuzix Blade to find out if it’s worth shelling out $1,000 for smartglasses. Are these augmented reality, Android-powered glasses really ready for primetime or just an expensive gimmick that no one really needs?
Outdoors

These wireless earbuds use an A.I. to get you moving faster

The new Soul Blade wireless earbuds provide the ability to track your heart rate during a workout while an A.I.-powered coach gives advice and info on how to improve form and efficiency while exercising.
Wearables

The Google Pixel Watch could finally launch sometime this year

From its Pixel smartphones to Google Home, the Google brand is quickly becoming synonymous with high-quality consumer hardware. Eventually, according to rumors, Google may branch out a little further by creating its first smartwatch.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for February 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Wearables

Sony’s weird Wena isn’t a smartwatch, it’s a smart watch strap

Sony's Wena smart watch straps have been around since 2015; but the company has now decided to launch them outside of Japan, starting with the U.K.. The straps convert traditional watch straps into smart watches.
Mobile

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.
Mobile

North Focals smartglasses discount cuts the price by a massive $400

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in late 2018, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto and has made its first shipment.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.