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Withings launches its first watch with heart rate monitoring

Engadget Engadget 1/09/2016 Daniel Cooper
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Much like it was mandatory to wear Loom Bands in 2014, if a fitness wearable can't track your heart rate then it's dead... dead, ya hear? Withings doesn't make fitness wearables so much as timepieces that just happen to track your activity, which justifies its decision to drag its feet on the heart rate sensor issue until now. That's now set to change with the Withings Steel HR, a follow-on to the Activité analog watch that gains an optical HR sensor and a new digital sub-display for smartphone notifications.

It's the digital sub-display that's probably the most striking new addition, a round circle that'll display your step count, heart rate and message notifications. The idea of cramming in a digital screen alongside an analog watch face isn't a new one, although Withings' version is significantly more elegant than Guess' version. Users can determine what's displayed on the screen via the company's iOS and Android companion app. Then, they can cycle through those options by pushing the multifunction button that sits where the crown should be.

Withings has historically been resistant to add too much technology to its timepieces to avoid compromising style and battery life. As such, the Steel HR follows the Activité and is a French-designed watch with a stainless steel case, chrome hands and silicone straps. Integrated into the face, below the main dial, is a sub-dial that, as usual, will creep toward your daily fitness goal as you move about your day. As well as being stylish, that level of restraint had another positive: a battery life that's measured in months, rather than days.

With the Steel HR, the company has managed to get 45 days of use out of its rechargeable cell, although that's a bit of a fudge. The first 25 days will offer you continuous HR for workouts, average HR for your working day and your resting HR at night. After that, the watch will go into power saving mode, giving you 20 further days with just basic step and activity tracking, but nothing more.

The Withings Steel HR will be available from the company's official website from the start of October and in stores by the end of that month. Available in both black or white, the 36mm edition will retail for $179.95/£169.95 while the 40mm version will set you back $199.95/£179.95.

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