As far as smartwatches go the Vector excels in both design and technical prowess.
It does exactly what ones assumes a smartwatch would do. It notifies the wearer of the info he or she wishes to receive. It also serves as an elegant and reliable timepiece — nothing more, nothing less.
People tend to converse about smartwatches in the same way they do about Google Glass. What’s a smartwatch other than another digital device stealing our time and attention? Do we really want another barrier to real human connection, especially one that from the very beginning appears to be somewhat gauche?
In our information-crazed society where FOMO is a real thing, aren’t we distracted enough?
I’ve written about why I’d prefer not to wear one. I even went so far as to wear a sweater with an 8-bit Tamagotchi across the chest that pays homage to William Gibson’s Tamagotchi gesture.
In a 1999 essay from Wired describing his obsession with buying traditional timepieces on eBay, Gibson says:
Mechanical watches partake of the Tamagotchi Gesture: They’re pointless yet needful, comforting precisely because they require tending.
I don’t disagree that a timepiece requires tending. Sure, the Vector needs tending – it needs to be charged. And maybe at some point I’ll swap out a wristband or two.
From a moral perspective, isn’t the watch disturbing with all its notifications? Doesn’t it add to the level of digital noise instead of help reduce it, given that we’re already trying to turn down the noise (be it mental or digital) to begin with?
Let’s back up for a second. If digital distraction is the topic here, the iPhone is a lost cause. Think about it: it’s basically a computer we keep in our back pocket and program to go off all the time.
The smartwatch enables one to filter out everything except for the absolutely necessary.
And the phone can be put away.
The only notifications I have set up are incoming calls, text messages, Facebook messenger (the only reason outside of groups I still use Facebook), and Uber. Those are enough. All of the messages filtered to come through are from those I actually know.
I can also put the device in silent mode. That way I can move along with the activities and tasks that are truly important without worrying that no one can reach me. (Yes, a luxury problem that didn’t exist thirty years ago.)
The watch doesn’t interfere the way phones do, as long as we set them up to act that way.
It’s also helpful to simply, well, glance down. For example, I can look down at my wrist and learn that the friend I’m meeting for brunch is five minutes away. There’s no need to dig out the iPhone, unlock it, and swipe. This literally eliminates at least two, three, possibly more actions taken depending on your setup and use.
I got the Vector Watch for several reasons but mostly, because I wanted to attach myself to something beautiful.
And the Vector is just that. The hardware is sleek and fully customizable from both an interface and hardware perspective. You can choose from several faces, bands and sizes.
You can essentially design a timepiece that looks like a classic mechanical watch. From a distance one barely notices that it’s a smartwatch – it’s that discreet.
When I got my Vector in late 2015 there were only a limited number of digital watch faces available. The file sizes must’ve been larger then, too — I was only able to download a handful. They must be iterating quickly, or maybe it’s because they’ve opened up their platform to developers because many more have rolled out since then ranging from classic to abstract. They even offered a heart-themed face on Valentine’s Day.
While it’s stream features are somewhat limited at present (and this may be intentional) the smartwatch offers basic functional features like a timer, alarm, weather info and news. For those who like to dabble in quantified self one has the ability to measure steps, calories burned, and hours of sleep, although there is no Fitbit-like interface for digging more deeply into the data.
The battery life also falls short of expectation (it’s closer to three weeks versus four). Other more nuanced personal grievances revolve around display resolution and storage.
The vector is cross platform, meaning that it’s compatible with both Android and iPhone devices. I tried it out on both and it worked just fine.
All in all, the Vector is a beautiful marriage between form and function; a high quality product that hasn’t glitched on me yet in the five months I’ve had it. Sleek, intuitive design meets helpful technology – this is where the Vector truly shines.
Will it last five years though, as a traditional timepiece would? Probably not. It’s certain to say that in five years there will be a more sophisticated device taking its place. It will be interesting to see if there will be long-term debate about mechanical versus digital, or if they will simply be treated as separate species.
Within the former the mechanical watch will almost certainly win every time. Within the latter, the traditional watch will take home the categories of reliability and tradition as the smartwatch continues to dazzle on.