Welcome to the world of wearable tech.
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic, want to keep track of your health and sleep patterns or like the idea of a mini office assistant that wraps around your wrist, a smartwatch can do it all.
You can track your workouts, work meeting and even order milk while you’re on the go - so it might just be the handiest investment you can make to get your life organised and help you smash your goals.
What is a smartwatch?
You’ll see some wearable tech watches branded as ‘smartwatches’ and others as ‘fitness trackers’. While the terms are often used interchangeably, the main difference is that trackers feed your workout and health data straight into an app, and don’t have interactive screens, while a smartwatch will show you your stats in real-time on an interactive menu and offers other lifestyle tools too, tracking everything from your sleeping patterns to your menstrual cycle.
What features should you look out for?
If sport is a key part of your life, a smartwatch is the perfect way to monitor your progress, achieve your goals and even navigate your running and cycling sessions.
Smartwatches have been proven to boost both your activity and motivation – and who needs a personal trainer when your own wristwatch can put you through your paces and nudge you to keep moving?
Not all wearable tech is created equal, though - we recommend choosing a watch that is designed with your favourite sports or fitness classes in mind. Some smartwatches are perfect for tracking your running performance, others can guide hikers on the trail with built-in GPS and maps. Waterproof watches are ideal for doing lengths in the pool, and there are even watches with maps of ski resorts and golf courses built-in.
Lifestyle and wellness
Think about your daily habits before you buy a new smartwatch. Health fanatics will want a watch that can track sleep, heart rate, recovery days and maybe even nutrition.
If you want a moveable office that can aid with work and a busy social life, pick a watch designed to be compatible with your phone, and that can ping emails, calls and calendar reminders your way.
If you’re a keen traveller who likes to head into the wild, a longer battery life and good mapping tools will suit your lifestyle best.
How do you find the right fit and style of your smartwatch?
Some smartwatches aren’t the prettiest objects to look at - many wearable technology offerings are still chunky, heavy and all-black. Even ‘unisex’ labelled wearable tech may be too big for smaller wrists.
The market is changing, though, with more and more brands bringing out lightweight and high-performing watches designed with women in mind. If you have a slimmer wrist, it’s worth looking for a female-specific watch or a model with a smaller face. Check the weight before you buy, too – on test we found any watch that weighed under 70g tended to feel comfortable to wear for most women.
The good news is that there are plenty of eye-catching smartwatches available - so if you want to wear your watch all day, rather than just when you’re getting active, pick something you’re happy wearing to work as well as to sweat.
Interchangeable straps are a good idea to suit different activities, while a gold face will make your tech look more like a classic watch. We’ve included a few watches that are gorgeous multi-tasking timepieces you could easily wear to sightsee, socialise or study as well as to sweat.
Shop the best below
Polar Ignite 2
Calling all sports fans, Polar’s smartwatches have long been favourites with the fitness crowd, and the Ignite is no exception.
This affordable watch includes GPS and Bluetooth for navigation, tracks your heart rate, calorie count and sleeping patterns, offers breathing exercises and lets you create daily training regimes – ideal if you’re working on clocking up your miles cycling and running. The Ignite 2 is waterproof and is also Strava compatible, so you can check your stats in the pool.
We think the Ignite looks great worn casually, too, especially the women’s rose gold colourway, which will go from workout to work with ease.
Buy now £199.50, Polar
HONOR GS 3
Rather an elegant take on smartwatches, Honor’s GS 3 looks like a classic wristwatch – and on test we found it really comfortable to wear all day long.
We appreciated the different watch faces available to suit all tastes, including a gorgeous night sky screen. The GS is ready for action, too, with over 100 workout modes and route tracking built-in. There’s also an accurate heart rate monitor and even a blood oxygen monitor that vibrates if yours happens to get low.
The menu is intuitively easy to use on-the-go for taking calls, setting reminders and navigating.
Buy now £207.38, Amazon
Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL
Wahoo’s ELEMNT RIVAL may be the ultimate gym buddy. It comes complete with 12 pre-loaded workouts to push you to swim, bike and run further and faster, while built-in training calendars track progress – ideal if you’re working to a goal such as a marathon or triathlon. The ELEMNT was designed with multisport lovers in mind, and also syncs with Wahoo’s bike computers.
If you love to get your fitness down to fine details, the smartwatch will record all the nitty gritty – and even plan out next week’s workouts. Looks-wise, this is a pretty sporty watch – we’d pick it for cardio sessions over city strolls.
Buy now £299.99, Wahoo
Fitbit Luxe Special Edition
We love the delicate chain strap of Fitbit’s Luxe, which lives up to its name. The style combines all the sporty know-how of a Fitbit with jewellery-level looks that is smart enough to wear to work, the gym and your packed social schedule.
This Fitbit really shines when it is time to get sweaty, though, monitoring heart rate, pace and distance and even giving a ‘daily readiness score’ that shows when you should give your all and when you should focus on recovery. The sleep stages and slumber mode will keep an eye on your kip, too.
Buy now £179.99, John Lewis
Garmin Instinct Solar 2
As the name suggests, the Garmin Instinct Solar can recharge straight from the sun, extending your battery life whenever you wear it.
The tough rubber of the watch surround is also ideal for keeping your watch safe when you’re basking in the great outdoors, or for the clumsy among us.
The black-and-white screen tracks activity faithfully, and is lifestyle-friendly too, showing notifications, allowing you to pay on the go and syncing with your calendar. A 2S version is also available for smaller wrists.
Buy now £389.99, John Lewis
Skagen Jorn Gen 6 Hybrid
The Danish-designed Skagen Jorn is a hybrid watch, so it’s a simpler but sleeker option than a full-blown smartwatch. That said, it’s still packed with lovely stuff – a heart rate sensor, a good sleep tracking sensor and Amazon Alexa, ever-ready to answer your queries or to make your life a little bit easier.
The ‘wellness dashboard’ that you’ll notice on the linked phone app is a great way to check in with (and improve) your daily habits, too. Our favourite feature on test was the long battery life – the Jorn only needs charging once a week or so with regular use, which saves a lot of the recharging faff.
Buy now £209.00, Skagen
An adventurer’s dream companion - meet SUUNTO’s most outdoorsy offering yet. The 7 is a big bold smartwatch, although at 70g, it isn’t prohibitively heavy. That generous size does mean you get an easy-to-read screen, which comes into its own when hiking and cycling.
The SUUNTO 7 has the best mapping abilities we tested, working offline and making following directions when you’re walking or running a breeze. You can even see ‘heatmapped’ trails frequently taken by other users in your local area if you’re looking for route ideas. Over 70 built-in sport modes include trail running, open water swimming and hiking.
Buy now £247.00, Suunto
Garmin Fenix 6S Pro
Do you love to roam far from the madding crowds? Take the Garmin Fenix 6S Pro with you.
This GPS sport watch is perfect for explorers, with a big, easy-to-follow, full-colour mapping screen as well as a safety beacon feature, fitness tracking and other useful features including hydration tracking and music.
The battery life lasts up to an impressive nine days, which is a life-saver if you’re out on multi-day treks, and the watch also comes preloaded with ski maps for 2,000 resorts – perfect for snow sports lovers. The 6S is a smaller version of the Fenix 6 watch, so it’s a good choice for female wrists.
Buy now £448.99, Amazon
It’s a classic for a reason – the Apple Watch is a great lifestyle all-rounder. The all-American brand’s flagship watch is unisex, but there are lots of lovely straps available, making it easy to customise to your style.
On test we found it had the most intuitive and simple menu to get to know. Fitness-focused? From pedalling in a spin class, getting your Om on in a yoga shala or hitting a HIIT session, the Watch will keep up with you effortlessly – and it can also do clever extras such as track your period and even connect with compatible gym equipment. We like the ‘three rings’ display, which motivates you to hit Move, Exercise and Stand targets daily.
There are models available at all price points from the more purse-friendly SE models to the latest Apple Watch 7.
Buy now £369.00, Amazon
Fossil Gen 6 Smart Watch
Hey, good-looking: Fossil packages up both style and substance into its Gen 6, which manages to look gorgeous in gold, while being intuitive and effective to use.
A wide touchscreen makes navigating the menu less fiddly, while a heart rate monitor tracks activity faithfully. Google Assistant also lets you check up on emails, calls and reminders on the fly, or pay for shopping straight from your watch. A good choice for Android fans who want to stay connected on the go.
Buy now £272.00, AO