The Nowa Superbe is a niche product for a niche audience. It’s not a hybrid smartwatch, as it doesn’t deliver notifications. It’s a basic fitness tracker wearing its best party outfit, for those who hate the idea of wearing a fitness tracker that looks like it really only belongs in the gym. A fitness tracker for someone who doesn’t want a fitness tracker. Tough crowd.
What does it do? Let’s get this out of the way first — it doesn’t do that much. It tracks your steps and sleep, keeps a record of your daily activity time and calories burned, plus it can work as a remote shutter for your phone’s camera, and be used to sound an alert if you lose your phone. The closest the Superbe comes to smartwatch functionality is to get an alert when your phone rings, and the chance to reject calls.
The fitness tracking can be synced to Google Fit or Apple Health, which is welcome, but the other “features” are a disappointment. First is the remote shutter. Thinking it’ll be great for quick selfies? It isn’t. Not only is it slow to react when you push the crown button on the watch, but it only operates through the Nowa app, and not the standard phone camera app, or an app like Instagram. Shame.
Then there is the call alert. The Nowa Superbe doesn’t have a vibration motor, so the alert is visual. On the watch face is a small circular LED light which flashes when your phone rings. Great if you’re constantly staring at your watch, but not so much when it’s under a shirt sleeve. Nowa makes a big deal about the watch adjusting itself to the current timezone automatically. This works most of the time, and is controlled when your phone switches time zones, quickly updating itself without any action from you. However, getting it to change consistently was more of a challenge. It often remained in the wrong time zone after switching back, forcing me to use the app’s Set Time option to get it back to normal.
The closest the Superbe comes to smartwatch functionality is to get an alert when your phone rings, and the chance to reject calls.
Nowa’s app is basic. It breaks down your activity and sleep data, and has an easy to understand menu to activate or deactivate the watch’s smart features. It’s also used to pair the watch with your phone — we have used it with the Asus Zenfone 6 on Android without a problem, and it’s also compatible with iOS — or to set the time manually. In my short time with the app, I did not experience any stability problems, but Android continually reminded me it was running in the background and draining the phone’s battery.
This will be where the Nowa Superbe may win fans. It ignores the usual fitness band style, and embraces a delicate, minimalist watch style instead. It’s made from stainless steel, and it’s mineral glass over the face. However, it doesn’t have a round face but it has a square one, and there is a crown on the side. This is a button and does not rotate. The square look makes it very different from its competitors like the Withings Move, or the many hybrid Fossil watches available. It’s a brave choice, when the Apple Watch splits opinion with its design.
It’s a dainty little thing. The face is small at just 36mm, and the strap is sized accordingly so on the smallest notch it’ll happily wrap around slender wrists. The metal case is tapered at the sides, which effectively hides the fact the watch is quite thick at 9.75mm, and the brushed metal look is classy. The white watch face is minimalist, with no numbers and simple hands. The strap on our review model is a length of thin 18mm leather which is supple and comfortable from the moment you get it out of the box, and is attached to the case using quick release pins.
The Superbe doesn’t need charging, and the battery inside should last for about eight months.
It drives a quartz movement from experts Ronda, and a Bluetooth low energy connection to your phone. The Superbe doesn’t need charging, and the standard CR2025 battery inside should last for about eight months before it needs replacing. There is a simple battery capacity indicator in the app.
The Nowa Superbe’s style has grown on me, but it still looks small to my eye. It is lightweight and isn’t big or thick enough to get caught on a shirt sleeve. You can easily wear it on a daily basis, and it won’t be annoying to wear overnight if you want to track your sleep too. There are several different styles, with the blue hands on our Classic Black review model really catching the eye.
Price and availability
You can buy the Nowa Superbe through Indiegogo now, with shipping in August. At the time of writing there are still models available for $121, but after this limited number has been sold, the watch will cost $144. The Nowa Superbe does come with the two-year warranty, and is water resistant to 30 meters too, so it should be long-lasting.
Nowa’s biggest enemy is the massive amount of fitness bands available — from Xiaomi’s $32 Mi Band 3 to the $100 Fitbit Inspire HR, Fossil’s range of hybrid smartwatches, which offer more functionality often for a similar price, and the Fitbit Versa Lite. For $121, if you really like the style, it’s a decent fitness watch provided you understand the feature limitations, but have a good look around at the competition, as you can get more for your money.