French health and fitness device-maker Withings has kicked off pre-orders for its Activité watch/activity tracker, with a special pre-order page it publicized today to customers who registered interest in availability. The website is available to all, however, so head on over if you have an inkling for one of these beauties. Note up front that good looks come with a cost, however: Withings is looking for $450 each for these babies in the U.S.
Withings had discussed a $390 price tag back in June, but it’s not uncommon for these things to change. To put that $450 in context, Apple is going to be charging $350 to start for its Apple Watch, while most Android Wear devices retail for around $200. Competing activity trackers (this isn’t actually a smartwatch, remember, but more or less a Fitbit or Jawbone UP contained in the classic lines of a (admittedly well-designed) analog wristwatch. It has a Swiss-made dial, Swiss-made sapphire and stainless steel case, calf leather strap and a quartz watch movement powered by a standard watch battery for over eight months of usage. The caseback is designed to allow for easy user replacement of said battery, which you can pick up basically anywhere, so it’s actually more convenient int that regard than your average wristwatch.
At $450, Activité isn’t priced for everyone, but it’s also not necessarily the wrong move by Withings, in my opinion. High-end quartz watches often retail in this range, without any embedded activity tracking functions, and Withings also includes Bluetooth LE connectivity to not only sync activity measurement data back to your iPhone, but also to automatically update the time when you travel and switch time zones.
Withings’s device can also automatically track running and swimming, and can be cued to monitor sleep information. It includes a vibrating alarm to let you know when you’ve met your goal, and it includes a silicone strap in the box for switching out when you go on runs. The spring bars will fit standard straps, but they don’t require the use of fiddly spring bar tools to change out. The 36.3 mm diameter face should also look good on both large and small wrists, and the dark and white color options for the face both look good, as does the domed sapphire crystal.
Dedicated activity trackers don’t have much of a future in my estimation – things like the Fitbit Flex have had their time, and will likely give way to smartwatches and the like. But a premium watch that also happens to provide activity tracker functions might just strike the right balance for a market of higher end buyers that don’t want to forfeit their wrist real estate to something that has to charge every night, but that are interested in some of the lifestyle benefits of basic health monitoring tech.
The Withings Activité has a stock bar indicating that there are still quite a few units available for reservation, but we have no idea how large the overall pool is. Those that pre-order will get their devices before those in the general launch pool, Withings tells us. I don’t see this device, at this price, being a massive runaway success, but it may carve out a niche in a market that’s about to be very changed by the introduction of Apple’s wearable entrant in 2015.