The Android Wear smartwatch space is getting a serious injection of swank at this year's Mobile World Congress thanks to Huawei's Sunday reveal of the not-so-creatively-named Huawei Watch.
Wrought from cold-forged stainless steel and topped by a sapphire crystal lens, the Huawei Watch borrows a number of critical design cues from traditional luxury timepieces, and will inevitably go head-to-head with LG's upmarket Watch Urbane and Urbane LTE, which impressed us the hell out of us during a hands-on.
Pricing and the date of arrival of the Huawei Watch is unknown, but it will be coming to the United States.
First teased (leaked? intentionally leaked?) in two YouTube videos posted on Saturday, the Huawei Watch has a 1.4-inch round AMOLED display boasting 400x400 resolution good for 286 pixels per inch. It will come in gold, silver and black color schemes, along with a wide range of straps (I'm digging the Milanese loop in our lead photo), and 40 different Android Wear watchfaces (that's a lot of options relative to competing models).
We should get a hands on with the Huawei Watch shortly, so for now I can only comment on what we see in renders and in the YouTube videos—but what I see looks impressive. There's a relatively thin bezel around the display. This helps Huawei more closely align with the look and feel of a traditional analog watch. The Huawei Watch also has strap lugs—another design cue that screams watch instead of gadget (see the Moto 360 for the other approach).
And here's a trick we haven't yet seen in an Android Wear watch: The functional crown button is placed at the 2 o'clock position. It's just a little bit of flourish that imbues the Huawei Watch with some extra identity. Inside, the Huawei Watch is standard Android Wear: 1.2GHz Qualcomm processor, 4GB of storage, 512MB of RAM. Ho-hum, sure. But in the Android Wear game, it's what's outside that counts.
Why this matters: Smartwatches have an image problem. Besides various technical roadblocks, such as poor battery life, most current-gen models just look too gadgety, which turns off analog watch traditionalists. But now with the Huawei Watch, LG Watch Urbane, and the imminent arrival of legitimate Swiss timepieces stuffed with activity-tracking functions, the smartwatch market is maturing, and nosing its way toward legitimacy.
Now let's get this straight: The Android Wear watches and Apple Watch won't be direct competitors because their ecosystem lines are so clearly drawn. But when the Apple Watch arrives with its rectangular display, it might already look outdated within the big scheme of smartwatch design—the more expensive gold Apple Watch model notwithstanding.