SMARTWATCHES come in a wide range of types and designs, from the popular Apple Watch to the iconic FitBit to countless others – there’s a huge range on the market nowadays.
A few of them combine the features of a regular watch and a smartwatch into one design, known as a hybrid smartwatch, and the latest addition to that genre represents one of its best implementations yet.
The Withings ScanWatch Horizon is an update of the earlier Withings ScanWatch (which I reviewed back in 2020) and the majority of what I said then remains true, with the few changes being improvements to the offering.
Aesthetically and from an overall design perspective, the ScanWatch Horizon is a significant improvement on its predecessor. It looks and feels like a proper dive watch, right down to the brushed metal case, the rotating bezel, and general style.
It features a 43mm case and is rated for 10 Atmospheres (100m) water resistance, which means you can wear it swimming or snorkelling, but despite appearances it’s not suitable for actual diving. This isn’t an uncommon thing with many diver-inspired watches, however, so it’s not a criticism.
Overall, in style and wearability, it compares favourably to actual diving watches, which adds to the appeal given the design’s continued popularity even among people who don’t take them anywhere near water (known as “Desk Divers” in the watch collecting community).
The ScanWatch Horizon uses standard 20mm watch straps and one of the neat features is the box comes with a small toolkit for adjusting the band link lengths or swapping it out completely for a different kind of strap (there’s even a silicone one included).
One of the big improvements is the ScanWatch Horizon has GPS tracking (a feature missing from the earlier iteration of the watch), meaning it provides detailed information on workouts and routes taken. Besides the design, this is probably the most significant upgrade on the watch and it’s a very welcome one.
I was also really pleased to see one of the specific activities it monitors is gaming – really useful to see how your heart rate and oxygen levels perform during intense matches. The sleep monitoring is also helpful for understanding the after effects of staying up until 3am to finish that raid when you’ve got work the next morning.
The battery lasts for about 30 days (with another 20 up its sleeve purely as a watch) and recharges via a proprietary (and included) cable with attachment. I’d really like to have seen MagSafe/Qi-compatible charging as an option, given the pricepoint, so was somewhat disappoint that it wasn’t there and I now have yet another proprietary USB cable to go into my collection of USB cables for charging things.
From a wearability perspective, I’ve found the ScanWatch Horizon extremely comfortable. It fits nicely on my wrist and has just enough heft to feel like a quality watch, but not so much that it’s obtrusive. The dial is easy to read – helped by see-through hands accentuated by lume – and the controls are handled by rotating the crown, which also has a push-button for input. There’s no touchscreen, and you only get a single line display of e-mails or text messages – better than nothing, but not as useful as touchscreen smartwatches were you can often see the whole SMS in one glance.
I would have liked a way to increase or customise the vibration intensity/pattern too but it’s a minor issue with what is otherwise an excellent smartwatch.
Setup and connection were straightforward and I haven’t had any issues with the watch disconnecting from my phone or not receiving notifications in a timely manner; the integration with the Health Mate app is effective and provides useful and easy to understand information, and everything just worked exactly as I expected it to.
The heartbeat and oxygen level monitors remain very cool and while not a lot of use for someone in good health beyond going “Hey, that’s neat”, it is of use to people with medical issues who need to keep an eye on them (although, of course, it’s not a substitute for proper monitoring by an actual doctor).
One of the few missing features is the ability to control a music player or streaming service via the watch – which is surprising, because even something as simple as being able to play/pause or skip songs would be easy to implement with the available controls and add significantly to the watch’s utility for active users.
The RRP is AUD$699, which is in the same range as a high quality quartz movement watch, and this one comes with the numerous medical tracking and smartwatch features as well, making the price seem fair to me.
As long as you don’t mind the lack of music player control, this is a well made, useful, and stylish smartwatch which is well worth not only adding to your wristwear rotation, but seriously considering as a daily driver.
The Withings ScanWatch Horizon sits nicely on the intersection between a traditional analogue watch and a modern smartwatch, and of the hybrid smartwatches I’ve encountered, this is easily the best and is highly recommended as a result.