G tch R: My first 12 hours with the best-looking Android ar watch of all

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 18 Oct 2014

A tweak here a tweak there. The mobile manufacturers are slowly honing in on better-looking Android ar watches, now the final, shipping version of the G tch R has arrived in stainless-steel leather flesh. I’ve been using ’s Android ar redux for the better half of a day, I already think it wins first place in industrial design among the quartet of available ar watches.

No, not because the R’s aesthetics are sublime. ’s second Android ar watch looks nice, but it’s not transcendent. The G tch R is the best-looking Android ar watch precisely because, well, it’s the one that looks most like a watch.

g watch r face

Notice the dials that reveal steps altitude. This is the Hiking watch face.

The most watchy-looking ar watch available

ke the Moto 360, the G tch R has a circular display that places the design aesthetic firmly in chronograph territory. But unlike Motorola’s watch, the R uses substantial, chunky lugs for its strap attachment points. It’s a much more traditional, watchy look than what Motorola delivers in the Moto 360 with its poorly integrated straps that jut out of nowhere.

And once you add in ’s chronograph-style watch faces, with all their teched-out dials digital complications, the G tch R looks even more like a sports watch. Simply put, it’s the Android ar watch that comes closest to looking like my everyday TAG Heuer Formula 1. The G tch R comes with 18 different watch faces, my favorite so far is the Hiking face, shown above, which has smaller dials that reveal your current steps altitude (divined by monitoring atmospheric pressure care of a built-in barometer).

g watch r  moto360

Relative to the Moto 360 (right), the G tch R has a chunkier bezel (that looks like it rotates, but doesn’t) a smaller display.

The G tch R’s visibility in direct sunlight appears to be just as good as the Moto 360’s. This alone makes the new R better than the original G tch, which is practically illegible outside, even on cloudy days. The G tch R also has a fully circular display, whereas the Moto 360 has a little slice cut out of the bottom of its screen—an unusable black sliver, devoid of pixels entirely. Motorola took this approach to accommodate the 360’s display controller, whereas appears to place control circuitry around the display itself.

A complete circle, but not the biggest circle

The practical upshot is that the G tch R has a more refined look, but in a smaller display with a wider bezel. ’s 320×320 OD measures 1.3 inches, while Motorola’s 320×290 I D measures 1.56 inches. And you know what? The Moto 360 display does look bigger, that may mean something to anyone who obsesses over display font size.

g watch r cropped

Notice how the very last line of the context card is nipped off on the far left right.

I’ll also note that the very last line of text on Android ar’s context cards get slightly trimmed-off by the curve of ’s display. Hopefully an update will fix this soon.

As far as the G tch R’s fit finish, it’s pleasant inoffensive, but the Swiss have nothing to worry about for now. The black stainless steel case is sturdy, but doesn’t ooze luxury. The bezel has dial markings like a traditional rotating bezel used for event marking, but there’s no physical rotation at all.

The leather strap is comfortable, is easy to take on off, but somehow feels a bit too ordinary for the genuine leather article. Still, I’d say the same for Motorola’s leather strap. Is “entry-level leather” a thing? If it is, then I’d hazard that all the Android ar hardware manufacturers are buying it up at commodity prices.

g watch r crown

The stainless steel casing leather strap are perfectly fine, but don’t immediately align with champagne wishes caviar dreams.

There’s a lot to like about the G tch R, but I’m not yet ready to render my final verdict. I still need to spend more time with the OS experience charging cradle, , most importantly, battery life remains a mystery. Run time is critical to the Android ar experience, so how long the G tch R lasts on a single charge will be a major factor in its final review score.

Stay tuned while testing continues. In the meantime, please share your G tch R questions in the comments below, or tweet them to @SF.