LG G Watch R

Our first look at LG's all-new rounded smartwatch

IFA 2014 If all the hype around the Moto 360 in recent months tells us anything, it's that tech enthusiasts want smartwatches that look good. LG's first Android Wear device, the G Watch, was little more than a vessel for Google's wearable OS. There really wasn't much hardware to talk about, just a rectangle on your wrist, and a window onto Android Wear.

For its second Android wearable, the LG G Watch R, the Korean manufacturer has focused much more strongly on the design of the physical hardware. And the result looks less like a smartphone on your wrist and more like a traditional analog watch. There's a gulf in build quality between the G Watch R and an expensive high-end timepiece, but like the rival Moto 360, it represents an important step in the right direction for smartwatch design.

The LG G Watch R boasts a bold design — one two years in the making according to the company's designers. Though whether it's the right fit for you — both physically and stylistically — will vary from individual to individual. In our opinion it's a vast improvement on the original G Watch, which is seen as more of a reference design for Android Wear than a fashion item. At least this G Watch is trying to be something.

The body of the G Watch R is a union of glass and metal, with a stainless steel frame and substantial lugs joining to its calfskin strap. Although there's only one body style, LG showed the device paired with a variety of different straps intended to fit different use cases — from sporty fabric designs to metal links suited to a more formal setting. There's no escaping the sheer size of the G Watch R — its chunky proportions make it feel larger on the wrist than its squared-off sibling — but at least you've got some personalization options open beyond the bundled leather strap.

LG G Watch R

The same goes for watch faces, and LG's included a wide variety of analog faces with the G Watch R for different styles and scenarios — for example camping, hiking or a world clock showing the time in different locations. Given the dearth of decent watch faces for the original G Watch, the variety we're seeing in the G Watch R is a welcome change. The core software remains Android Wear, however, and it's going to take Google to move that experience forward. (Our fingers are crossed for some meaningful improvements with the upcoming Android L release.)

The internals haven't changed much, but the screen is vastly improved.

When it comes to numbers and specifications, the G Watch R doesn't stray far from its predecessor's spec sheet — you're running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 CPU and 512MB of RAM. The screen has seen a significant improvement, though, moving to a P-OLED panel at 320x320 resolution (with the corners cut off, naturally), and it's noticeably brighter and more vivid than the original G Watch's dull LCD. We'll need to wait and see how daylight visibility plays out, but based on the brightness alone the G Watch R should be easier to see outdoors.

LG G Watch R

Unfortunately there's no ambient light sensor included — a disadvantage compared to the Moto 360, meaning you'll need to change brightness levels manually through Android Wear's cumbersome settings menu. The trade-off is that you get a "true circular" display, rather than settling for the cutout used by Motorola.

LG G Watch RLG G Watch R

When it comes time to charge, the G Watch R uses a magnetic dock like the original — a larger hockey puck-like design. Like LG's previous smartwatch, pins on the back of the watch join it to its charging dock, and the puck itself connects to other stuff over microUSB. We're not huge fans of proprietary charging docks, but the nature of smartwatches makes them unavoidable to a degree, and at least LG's circular arrangement fits together neatly.

LG G Watch R

The G Watch R boasts a bold design, but it might lack universal appeal

It's still early days for the LG G Watch R, which is expected to ship in Q4. We have a pretty good picture of the hardware, but we'll have to wait and see how Android Wear develops, and what other software tricks LG might be able to bring to the experience. Perhaps the most significant quality of this watch, though, is how unlike a smartwatch it looks. From the right angle, in the right conditions, you could absolutely confuse the G Watch R with a standard analog timepiece, and that's something you can't really say about any of the competition.

More: LG G Watch R in pictures

LG G Watch R


Reader comments

LG G Watch R hands-on


God forbid someone has a opinion that is different than your's. Some people like the look of a REAL watch and not a big ass circle screen.

God forbid someone has an opinion that is different than yours. Some people like the look of a REAL watch and not a cheap $3 looking Walmart Casio. See how that works? :)

Absurd dial? This watch is meant to mimic an analog watch and it's doing it very well.
Many watches, such as Chronographs, etc have that dial. I think it looks classy

When custom faces are implemented officially it'll be a big fail.

Permanent unchangeable part of the phone clashing with any face that's not analog style.

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That's where dbrand comes in with a black ring skin lol. (but you shouldn't have to do that)

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There's a reason no other OEM is doing that. It. Looks. Stupid.
It looks fine when you have a matching clock face showing. It looks dumb with anything else on the screen.

Right it looks better that the 1st me and Samsung watches but it can't compare to the moto 360 or the new asus

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Also, the charging contacts on the bottom make look less appealing.

But definitely better (IMHO) than a rectangular/square screen.

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This is the one thing that has turned me off on this watch. Both of the original watches now have issues with corrosion on the charging pads (got it on my Gear Live). With the previous issues on the gear live regarding the connection points for the charger breaking...it seems like the only major defective issues are all related to used pin based charging rather than wireless charging. What I want is a watch that looks like this...with the wireless charging of the 360.

I'm probs gnna cop some flack for his but i completely agree. I have a REAL watch where the frame almost isn't visible, much like the 360.

Pretty typical of Lg. Another dull useless Android Wear notifications watch. I can't laugh any harder.

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I just checked out richard's twitter and Holy Shit Balls it is seriously nothing but tweets about Samsung, this guy has some issues!

Lol I just looked, wow, think he works for Samsung? Or maybe just stalker-ish? I understand being a fanboy, but he takes it a little far.

The video is coming up as private

The bezel on that device it big, Its no wonder they could hide the electronics to make it 100% round. But for me that bezel is too big...

BTW you could have fitted a light sensor in the bezel with no issue. it would only take a tiny hole.

That dumb, huge, non functional bezel is not even why it doesn't have the bar at the bottom. It's because it does NOT have an ambient light sensor, so UNLIKE the Moto 360, like Alex said in this article, "you'll need to change brightness levels manually through Android Wear's cumbersome settings menu." It's so funny that some of these people are going on and on like LG innovated something here with a "true circular display," as if Motorola could not have done the same thing. Motorola CHOSE to include an ambient light sensor, because they chose function and experience as their highest priority.

So, to me, the question becomes: Which is more important, a complete circular display, or an ambient light sensor and wireless charging? To be honest, while I like the look of this watch better (from pictures, anyway... that may change once I can actually touch both models), the Moto 360 has the FEATURES I want, and thus, will get my money.

Of course, it goes without saying that when the 360 v2.0 comes out with a full circular display, they'll probably get my money again. Damn you, Moto -- you know me too well!

The charging placement is the same as the G watch which hurt my arm even after OTA. This confirmed for me that I'll get the 360.

I don't always post but when I do I use an outdated meme as my signature

Too bulky. I'm starting to tilt towards Moto360 or that Asus watch. I wonder if at least the battery life is better than others.
I'm sure there are people who actually prefer the look of this one though.

Alex, which watch (out of all current Android Wear) has the highest PPI and/or best looking screen?

Battery size is the same, exact same is pushed by google, it will last just as long as the first g watch. The ambient sensor on the 360 should make a pretty good impact on battery, but we'll know this much once the 360 comes out.

It's better to leave all those radios in the phone, which is able to house a much larger battery.

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Samsung, LG, Motorola and Asus delivering updates and or new hardware is all good for the platform but I can't help feeling the absence of any real watch makers is telling especially as there were many watch maker brands listed when we first heard about Android Wear.

My conspiracy led inner self fears the worst.

Why? The "real" watch makers are not experienced making such electronic devices. Phone makers are. So it's natural that phone makers are coming out with Android Wear first. Of course Fossil can just outsource it to other OEM but I doubt they want to outsource the whole thing because the margins will end up slim.
Anyway, give it some time for them to figure it out... they simply have no choice IMO.

The same could be said for OEM's convincing themselves that they can make a good attractive watch.
Out of the current crop the Moto 360 looks the slickest and in what seems like a very long wait for it we have seen the effort they have put in to this device to achieve its clean looks. If this came from Apple (not being a fanboy, I'm just being realistic) you could almost guarantee it will be a desirable time piece but I wouldn't expect many OEM's to match the craftsmanship of an actual watch maker... most OEM's find it hard to work with materials other than plastic, much less precious metals.

Once Android Wear collaborations surface I'll sleep easier at night but until then the lack of any news on watch brands devices leads me to think apple may have whoo'd them to the iWatch platform with cold hard cash and promises of magical proportions.

I will never believe anyone who says that Apple will release the "best" looking/feeling watch. Why? Because it's a fashion accessory and it's all subjective. There is also only so much you can do with a certain price point. You can bet a house there will more more "luxurious" Android Wear watches but for now they are just testing the waters so to speak.

Lastly, milling watch exterior shells is just as easy for OEMs as milling phone shells. It's something they do for a living. While "real" watch makers do not make mini smart phones for a living.

We'll see what Apple brings but any conversation about design is pointless because it's all subjective when it comes to watches.

Apple's watch doesn't have to be the best looking for it to end up being the most sought after smartwatch. Fact.

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I'm currently wearing my LG G watch I/O 2014 fresh and eagerly awaiting the 360 release or a well crafted timepiece that suits my style.

I didn't and don't count myself as one of the millions of Apple consumers. That said I accept that they exist and can see and understand why they are popular even though they are expense.

I didn't say Apple will produce the best anything. I did say that its a given that they will craft a device as they always do which is what a watch maker does when they build a timepiece.
Over the years we've all seen keynote after keynote from OEM's talking about design and craftsmanship but I'd find such statements more assuring coming from Rolex, Citezen and even Casio. That's basically what I'm getting at.

You are absolutely right that its all subjective and no pun intended time will tell.

I agree about the subjectiveness of design and fashion, I'm astonished to see people saying the lg g watch r looks better than the 360, but then as you said, it's subjective.

Hopefully for them they are able to adapt quickly if smartwatches hit it big and release something that's actually good in a timely matter. Otherwise I fear they may become the new blackberry. Of course smartwatches might just be a fad, but I don't think it's worth staying out of the market and falling behind.

I would say that veteran watch makers have a vested interest in not jumping in first. Their experience is with analog time pieces, and this segment, if it takes off, will be in direct competition to them. If it doesn't take off and smartwatches turn out to be a fad, then they've lost nothing in investment. It's perfectly logical for them to let phone manufacturers work out the kinks, then decide how to jump in at that point.

Android Wear is what, all of 2 months old? And "real watch maker brands," don't usually show at IFA. I think you're jumping the gun there. Just like LG and Samsung did with their less than stellar debuts.

Yes android wear is but a youngster of a platform and its general release hasn't been very long at all. That said Sony had zero plans to release a android wear and today tech bloggers saw it in the flesh.
whereas named partners haven't released a press image or a pencil sketch.

I wasn't expecting hardware from watch makers at IFA. i just think its odd that's all... not a single image or press conference or leaked conversation.

Yes, but SONY has been in the smartwatch game for YEARS. Years, before Android Wear, and the physical design of their 1st Android Wear device is far from "inspired." So clearly they had very little to do, other than switch their own software out for Android Wear, on hardware that could have very possibly been already intended for their own software.

Wow, looks nice!
Bezel? No more than most regular stainless steel watches I would think.

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Which is what some of us prefer. I want a watch that displays basic notifications and looks like a watch, so this is the best one for me so far.

If the bezel rotates (works for timing, e.g. dive watches), great. But if it doesn't, it's useless except for those who don't know how many minutes in an hour. It's silly adornment.

But you're not using this watch for diving. How many rotating bezels are actually used for anything other than aesthetics? The bezel is one of the reason I like this watch because it makes it look like a real watch. Plus does everything else required of a smart watch.

I don't get why you guy are arguing over this. The style is subjective and it's pointless to convince people who think otherwise. There's a reason why we have tens of thousands (or more) of different watch choices.

I had no idea we were arguing. I thought we were having a discussion about the styling of this particular watch. Choice is great and we all have the option to vote for our favorites with our wallets.

Well, you can use a timing bezel for anything: coffee press, hard boiled eggs, laundry, jogging, baking cookies. You're right, it does impart a more "conventional watch" appearance, I've just never personally liked a watch that reminds me that 3 o'clock equals 15 minutes, 6 o'clock equals 30 minutes, 9 o'clock equals 45 minutes. YMMV.

Yeah, the watch is a chunky one, but that works great for me. I can fully understand why it doesn't work for everyone, of course.

As for the bezel, I agree that it appears to be no larger than for a plain ol' sportswatch of this style. So, that's a matter of overall taste, not specifically related to a smartwatch. Again, I fully understand why that isn't for everyone.

I wouldn't get the Moto 360 because of that stupid cutout, so this is preferable if I was ever going to get one at all.

I'd rather have the cutout that let's me use whatever face I want.

That bezel will clash with any face that isn't an analog watch style.

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That is another preference thing, not an actual limitation. The bezel won't necessarily clash with non-analog watch faces. It just depends on whether you like the bezel in the first place. I prefer the look of a traditional watch, so it doesn't bother me at all.

You could also argue that the cutout on the 360 will clash with ANY watch face; analog or otherwise.

Lack of choice is definitely a limitation. Apple has been selling folks on it being otherwise for years, but it is definitely a limitation.

Not sure whether you are trying to make an argument for or against me.

If you mean lack of choice as in you can't change the bezel, then I would say that that is what other options are for. If you don't like it, get the 360, but having an array of different devices that suit different people's tastes is not a lack of choice.

If that is not what you meant, then I retract my statement. xD

EDIT: After reading some of your comments, it is obvious that you trying to argue against me. So, you basically argue that lack of choice is a limitation, then turn around and want this device to fail because it isn't YOUR ideal smartwatch, which leaves less choices out there. Sorry, I don't want an ugly ass 360, let me have my choice.

I wouldn't get this because of that stupid non functional bezel. And that stupid decision to deem a marketing line, "1st smartwatch with a truly circular display," more important than including a very FUNCTIONAL ambient light sensor.

I don't like how it has the 15-30-45. This is a smartwatch. Not a classic wristwatch. Just for that reason, it's a no.
/Fanboy mode/
I'm starting to like the Moto 360 bottom. It gives cards a "shelf", plus it can give a smaller bezel for sensors. I am hyped and I'm not sure how many watches LG will make (already announced #2, Samsung is at 6 in just a year). Moto seems dedicated.
/End Fanboy mode/

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Of course. It was DESIGNED with that in mind. Something all the haters seem to overlook. Not to mention, all Android Wear cards on a circular watchface, will have that same black bar "shelf" at the bottom, once you tap and raise a card. It's the way AW was designed. Which makes all this premature "flat tire" nonsense even more RIDICULOUS.

Article fail, not even mentioning the permanent numbers and dashes on the bezel.

Big disadvantage when custom faces come out officially.

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still going with the Motorola 360 but android wear needs to step it up. Right now its boring and really doesn't offer anything that's a necessity.

Looks pretty nice and a bit bulky but no big deal. I would buy this if I wasn't interested in the Moto 360.
Oh, some of y'all always complain bezel this, bezel that. Give it a rest.

It may be a "proprietary dock" but since it's charged by a microUSB cord, you can take it with you and plug it into anything you likely already have, including car chargers and on-the-go battery USB power sources (depending on required current). :)

"When it comes time to charge, the G Watch R uses a magnetic dock like the original — a larger hockey puck-like design. Like LG's previous smartwatch, pins on the back of the watch join it to its charging dock, and the puck itself connects to other stuff over microUSB."

So, again, Who says its charged with a micro usb cord?

I've seen the photos. Again, the parts I'm focussing on is: "When it comes time to charge, the G Watch R USES A MAGNETIC CHARGING DOCK like the original — a larger hockey puck-like design. Like LG's previous smartwatch, pins on the back of the watch join it to its charging dock, AND THE PUCK ITSELF CONNECTS TO OTHER STUFF over microUSB." Nothing I've read from those with actual time with LG and the device has stated that the micro usb port can actually be used to CHARGE the device without the puck. INCLUDING this, from another site who spoke directly with LG about the device: "There's still a plastic shell on the underside and the dreaded need for a proprietary magnetic charging connector, but the look is much more refined."

(joking) How else do you expect it to be charged, pixie dust? (seriously) Well, I'm not 100% sure, since I don't think Alex really specified that "connects to other stuff" includes charging. (I'm not at the event, and don't have access to LG technical information.)

BUT ... my LG WCP-300 puck charges via microUSB, and LG's Nexus WCP-400 also takes a microUSB power input. So ... I presume that this LG charger/dock is the same. I asked Alex on G+ to verify, perhaps he'll be able to. Probably very busy over there. Or ... the AC full review will surely explain when they get one to test drive.

Um, no. I expect it to charge just as he said it does. Just as the original does. Just as I previously stated. Just as this very article states: "When it comes time to charge, the G Watch R uses a magnetic dock like the original — a larger hockey puck-like design. Like LG's previous smartwatch, pins on the back of the watch join it to its charging dock."

Yes, we all freaking get it. It needs the docking station to charge, but you plug a *gasp* microUSB cable into it!!!! OMG!!!

I think you are trying to argue something totally different and it's not working out for you. Yes, we know you don't like this device. Move on.

Oh, and glad to see you know how to copy and paste.

You haven't understood my comment. The magnetic charging dock connects to the watch via pogo pins. The dock itself appears to take power via microUSB. No one is suggesting the watch can be charged directly via microUSB. Except you, in refuting this presumption to an audience of No One.

"It may be a "proprietary dock" but since it's [the dock] charged by a microUSB cord, you can take it with you and plug it into anything you likely already have, including car chargers and on-the-go battery USB power sources (depending on required current). :)"

Maybe you missed my earlier comment: "You completely misunderstood what I was saying, and I no longer have interest in explaining it."

So you can continue responding to an audience of NO ONE. I've long since moved on. Perhaps you should too.

Apparently you just put the watch on the dock and it charges by itself. Now this is true wireless charging! Who needs cables when you have a dock that charges without plugging it in to anything?

LG needs to fix the last 5% of the watchface (NOT screen, as Moto's USABLE screen area is STILL larger than that of this) that they did not cut off to omit an ambient light sensor. Until then, the Moto 360 IS the winner.

Says you. Different strokes for different folks. Not sure why people have to argue which is best when they aren't even out yet...

Yup. Says me. That was understood when I said it. And I guess you missed the fact that I said it in direct response to this statement, made by someone else: "Moto needs to "fix" the last 5% of the screen they cut off or this could be the winner."

No, I didn't miss that at all. I also didn't miss the fact that you are replying to every comment to say how bad this is. You don't like it, good for you, but some of us do. Good thing we have choices since I want a smartwatch a particular way and the 360 definitely isn't it.

Actually, that's not true. i guess you are still missing things. I actually don't think it is "bad." I DO think that bezel is bad though, as well as other concessions. What I am actually responding to, are people who are saying how bad the Moto 360 is compared to this. Which I completely disagree with, and will continue to dispute every time such comment is made.

Alas, I stand corrected. I hadn't read the part where it says that this DOESN'T have the light sensor. So, nothing to hide because it's just not there. I agree with you though, they could have hidden it in that bezel. I'd have done it on the top triangle (the one at 12 o'clock).

I've turned off the auto-brightness feature on every single device I've owned so, personally I won't miss it. But that would require that Android Wear had a much better way of controlling brightness 'on the go' than it does right now.

Same here. As big of an issue it is to be able to see the watch in sunlight, surely they thought of that when they chose to leave the light sensor out. I'm positive that there will be a way to quickly adjust the brightness setting.

In the context of this conversation, I don't need it, since the device I will be purchasing has a built in ambient light sensor.

I don't use Auto Brightness on phones and tablets. But guess what? An Android Wear smartwatch is not a phone or tablet. After daily use, the difference and need for it becomes apparent.

I'm assuming you own one of these devices? I don't, so I still need to see how it becomes apparent. But so far, I don't see the need for it. Maybe I will when I try one of these on, but I'm not getting one until I see what the Moto360 really is like and yes, even what Apple comes up with if at all. Once I have most of my options on the table, then I can take my pick.

Boy, this category need some serious help if it's ever going to get beyond the geek crowd. Hopefully the 360 will have a better showing, if that fails, then the category's last hope will rest with apple. If apple somehow dropped the ball on the 9th, then this category is dead as a mainstream mass market appeal.

I:d argue it's already dead for mass market. You just can't do that much on a watch. The size and ergonomics are too limiting. They may remain hot for tech enthusiasts, but not mass market.

"They may remain hot for tech enthusiasts, but not mass market."

You do realize that similar statements were made about the telephone, automobile, television, computers, the Internet, and cell/smartphones right?

It took some inventions years before there was an uptake by the mass market (gasoline & vulcanized rubber come to mind).

Are there two different versions, silver and black? In the video and initial pictures, the watch body looks silver, but in the very bottom picture it looks like there's a row of silver and another of black watch bodies. I would love to see pictures of the one with the black watch body.

Basically the Moto 360, except LG has hidden the tiny bezel some are hating the 360 for having, by placing a huge dial bezel around the entire watch... Yeah.. I prefer the barely noticeable 360 bezel over this. (Just my humble opinion)

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To put it simply I HATE sport watches. I can't get past the bezel with numbers on it. It looks like a nice watch and I would entertain this over the Moto 360 if it wasn't for that horrible bezel.

I go outside a lot. So an Android Wear watch without an ambient light sensor doesn't make the cut. I'm not going to spend my day trying to find the brightness control every time I get in the sun. Does this have an ambient light sensor? If not, I'm out.

I'm going to hold off until they come out with a round watch where the bezel area is made with flex glass and is fully customizable (think Note Edge with rings instead of strips... ). I'd prefer the bezel to bowl up instead of curve around, but I'd take either one.

Don't know if that will be LG or Samsung first but that's what I want.

IMO the best looking smartwatch currently, the only one so far that i want to buy to wear all day long, not only for the workout.

Styling aside I like how they handles the display better than Motorola leaving the black gap at the bottom.

LG just covered up the black gap at the bottom with a wide bezel, 360 degrees of wide bezel. This watch is slightly bigger than the Moto360, but the screen is significantly smaller.

This is really nice and sporty. Definitely not universal but it's perfect as a sports watch. I thought the dials would be part of the screen but this'll be fine as more n more watch faces come out for this type of design. Samsung and LG are really in it. Asus and Moto have some nice stuff but I doubt they'll develop their line as fast.

The more i see this watch, the more i want it, originally i wanted the 360, but forget waiting till who knows when to get it, so i settled with the G Watch on launch, and honestly i like my G Watch, and i do like how the G Watch R is a full circle.

That dial on the outside looks really tacky, Definitely not something I would want to wear with a suit or anything,

To me this looks far better than the others. Everything on the 360 looks like an afterthought to the screen with its ugly flat bottom and hockey puck styling.

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"We're not huge fans of proprietary charging docks, but the nature of smartwatches makes them unavoidable..."

SONY proved that wrong yesterday with the SONY Smartwatch 3.

"From the right angle, in the right conditions, you could absolutely confuse the G Watch R with a standard analog timepiece..."

And from the "right angle, in the right conditions," you could possibly confuse Justin Bieber with Halle Berry.

The biggest question is will LG do anything special with the round that makes it worth while to get this watch over another if you have a LG phone?

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this does look better than every other square watch out there... but I dont think its quite as classy looking as the 360

Looks are important, price is important; but the most important factor might be the NFC chip. Can you make mobile payments with the watch? That's very important.

I like it. Waiting to actually see it before asking my wife to get it for me for Christmas

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Yeah, I'm disappointed with the outside dial too. That could have easily been configured in a watch face but to make it permanent was a bit unnecessary. In fact, I still don't even know what that damn dial is for. I never have lol....

Looks really cool and clean, I like it... Only concern is the exposed battery prongs on the underside of the watch. Sweat may cause them to rust or whatever else causing issues to long last

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As someone who actually owns the watch, for a man, this is a great look. Yes the screen is smaller than the 360 but it is also MUCH easier to see in daylight with a better cpu as well. The smaller screen also leads to higher PPI which means easier to read text even if it is a bit smaller.

The big bezel is no different than the big bezel on any sport watch. My Rolex Submariner has a HUGE pretty useless bezel. I think it looks nice. This watch is definitely the most macho of all the smartwatches available.