It’s a time-honored tradition – the old versus the new.
So, are smartwatches actually better than normal watches?
Let’s find out.
Smartwatches are actually better than normal watches if you essentially crave a smartphone on your wrist. These modern watches allow you to send text messages, track your fitness, and access apps without touching your phone. If you’re seeking a timeless tradition and style, a normal watch is better.
So, that’s the bottom line; it comes down to personal preference. But you can argue a solid case for both normal and smartwatches. Let’s compare the two below!
What Is a Smartwatch?
Smartwatches have been around in some form since at least the 1970s. But they only really took off in about 2012 with the Pebble Watch.
It was the catalyst that brought big guns like Samsung and Apple into the smartwatch arena.
Smartwatches are now big business, ranking among the best watches on countless bestselling watch lists. And sales are projected to increase as technology continues to evolve.
So, what is a smartwatch?
Think of it as a wearable extension of your smartphone.
Of course, a smartwatch will tell you the time, like a normal watch. But it’s also packed with lots of other features.
You can expect a touchscreen with 24/7 access to your texts, calls, and media. Plus, you can download various apps, including apps that track fitness and health.
And, like most tech, you have to charge the battery.
What Is a Normal Watch?
It may be hard to believe, but normal watches were once the new tech in the horology world, succeeding the pocket watch in the late 19th century.
So, they’ve been around for a long time.
There are three types of normal watches:
- A mechanical watch you have to wind to keep it running
- An automatic watch that runs whenever you wear it
- A quartz watch that runs on batteries
Unlike smartwatches, telling the time is the primary purpose of a regular watch.
Some watches have other features. For example, some offer a chronograph, calendar, alarm, or moon phases. But these features are secondary to telling time.
Which Is Better – Smartwatch or Normal Watch?
Of course, you earn additional functionality with a smartwatch at prices that most of us can afford. However, when it comes to deciding if smartwatches are better than normal watches, it really depends on what you want from a watch.
So, it’s time to delve into this question in more detail.
Check out: Are Cheap Smart Watches Worth It? 7 Options Compared
Is a Smartwatch More Accurate Than a Normal Watch?
Any watch – smart or not – has to keep accurate time.
Otherwise, what’s the point?
You’d think that with all that hi-tech inside, a smartwatch is better than a regular watch when it comes to timekeeping.
And, you’d be right.
Smartwatches can be frighteningly accurate in their timekeeping.
But just how accurate? Well, Apple smartwatches – like this Apple Watch Series 6 – are accurate to 50 milliseconds of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
In contrast, a top-of-the-range mechanical watch from, say Rolex, gives you +/-2 seconds per day accuracy.
That’s pretty good when you consider certified chronometer watches only need an accuracy of -4/+6 seconds a day.
But if your budget doesn’t stretch to a Rolex, you might expect a mechanical watch to lose around 5-10 seconds a day.
Get a normal watch with a quartz movement instead, and you’ll get more accuracy.
A run-of-the-mill quartz watch can keep time to within 1 second a day. If it’s chronometer-certified, it’ll be accurate to +/-0.07 seconds a day.
They’re still not quite as accurate as a smartwatch, but not far off.
But, if all you want to do is tell the time, a mechanical watch’s accuracy is more than adequate for most of us.
Do You Want To Track Your Fitness?
A lot of smartwatches have fitness tracking apps as one of their main features. With such apps, you can track things like heart rate, steps, and calories while you work out.
Having this feature in a smartwatch means you don’t need to swap out your normal watch for a fitness tracker or pedometer when you visit the gym.
You can monitor your workout right from your smartwatch.
Of course, if you’re a serious athlete, you can invest in GPS sports watches.
They provide a lot more detailed and accurate information than you might get from a smartwatch fitness tracking app. This information includes things like pace and distance, which are vital when training for an upcoming race.
But GPS sports watches don’t really fall into our meaning of a normal watch. If anything, they have more in common with smartwatches.
So, really, smartwatches come out on top above normal watches for fitness tracking.
Read also: What Is Smart Gym Equipment? Everything You Need To Know
Do You Want To Monitor Other Health Metrics?
When it comes to health, exercise is only one part of the fitness equation. With a smartwatch, you can also monitor other crucial elements, like stress levels and sleep.
Examples of smartwatches that do this are the Polinkety Honor MagicWatch 2 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 3.
The Galaxy Watch 3 can also detect if you fall. It’ll then send a notification to an emergency contact. That’s useful if you’re out running on your own or at a new park.
You can check out a more detailed explanation of some of the Galaxy Watch 3’s health and other features in this clip:
Needless to say, you don’t get these types of features on a normal watch.
Do You Want To Access Your Phone Without Getting It Out?
If you’ve ever had a phone call or text while running or working out, you’ve probably found yourself fumbling for your phone. That’s not easy to do while continuing your exercise.
A smartwatch makes it super easy to take a call without fumbling around or even missing a step. The Galaxy Watch 3 can even read out or send texts or make calls.
With the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 LTE, you can stay in touch even without your smartphone in your hand.
Wear a normal watch when you go running or work out, and you won’t have these features.
So, if you need to stay in touch with whatever you’re doing, a smartwatch beats a normal watch, hands down.
But if you consider your workout time as essential me-time and don’t want it interrupted by email or phone notifications, stick to a normal watch.
Are You More Concerned With Having Stylish Wristwear?
Okay, so standard watches – especially at the luxury end of the range – are super stylish.
However, smartwatches have made a lot of progress on that front over the years.
Perhaps you wouldn’t describe them as beautiful, like some luxury watches. That might be a bit of a stretch. But smartwatch aesthetics have definitely moved on from the earliest versions.
Take the Galaxy Watch 3 LTE or Honor MagicWatch 2 above. They’re not bad-looking. In fact, they look remarkably like a normal watch.
And if that isn’t enough, on the Galaxy Watch 3, you can change the face with over 50,000 different faces to choose from. You can also make further customizations to each face to get the look you want.
So, don’t be in too much of a hurry to dismiss smartwatches when it comes to style.
Beautiful? Maybe not. But definitely good-looking.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll want to wear a smartwatch for those dressier occasions. They’re more for everyday wear.
And, you’re unlikely to see smartwatches passed down through generations because they don’t have the same timeless quality as some normal watches.
But, you know, that’s not the purpose of smartwatches.
Yes, if you want a family heirloom, then go for a high-end normal watch. But if you want a highly functional yet stylish bit of kit right on your wrist, you can’t beat a smartwatch.
Are You After Durability and Longevity?
So, maybe the first smartwatches weren’t built to last.
But you could say that about many regular watches at the lower end of the price range.
But, these days, durability is becoming more of a design feature for some smartwatches.
Just look at the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Titanium.
It claims military-grade durability, having passed military specification MIL-STD-810G testing. That’s a pretty rigid testing standard, covering temperature extremes, shock, and drops from a height.
Of course, the Galaxy Watch 3 Titanium is at the higher end of the smartwatch range. So you’ll pay more for this kind of build quality.
Yet, it’s still a reasonable price within most peoples’ budgets.
But does that mean that your smartwatch will still be running 100 years from now, like some mechanical watches?
Maybe not, simply because technology moves on. And when that happens, people tend to ditch their current tech for the latest model.
But let’s face it; you’ll pay a lot less for a top-of-the-range smartwatch than for a high-end normal watch.
Still, if you want a timepiece that will last you decades to come, a high-quality normal watch is the way to go.
Learn more: Should you turn off your smartwatch at night?
As you can see, there are many reasons you could argue smartwatches are better than normal watches. But, it comes down to personal preference.
If you just want to tell the time, a normal watch is all you need. Similarly, if you crave a beautiful timepiece you can pass down through the generations, stick with a normal watch.
But, if you want a mini smartphone on your wrist, with bags of functionality, a smartwatch ticks that box.
Better still, get one of each because smartwatches and normal watches aren’t mutually exclusive.