Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Few Weeks with the Kronaby Carat

So, it seemed about time that you might get to hear about the Kronaby connected watches from someone other than a fashion or tech blogger, so here we go ; )

While fashion influencers were posting carefully curated outfit collections chronicling their "must haves" for London fashion week, many of the folks who write and read about watches were wondering just exactly how the Kronaby watch might work in real life.  

With BaselWorld approaching hope was renewed, but alas a few of us had our appointments rearranged on fairly short notice making press appointments virtually impossible.  Fortunately, I was able to lay hands to a Kronaby watch, wear it, and offer some feedback - and here it is.

This is the Kronaby Carat -

It measures 38 mm in diameter and despite its positioning as a watch for women, I have to be honest that even with my rather large, hairy wrists, it is a very good size.  I would really not want to go any larger.

The blue dial with the gold tone of the rose pvd is quite beguiling and it is a very good looking watch.  Interesting to relate that the color of the dial itself tends to shift and change a bit depending on the light.  

The case back is also treated in rose gold pvd, and the finish of the case, on the whole, is really quite good.

The strap is a very nice dark blue, and referred to in the Kronaby literature as vegetal tanned, which I presume means vegetable tanned.  It is comfortable and the perfect match to the watch, and is finished with a gold pvd buckle -

The physical portions of the watch - the case, dial, hands, etc., are first rate and of a class you would expect from a much more expensive watch.  A lot of this is down to the design, but it still needed to be produced, and in terms of the finished product, Kronaby did not disappoint.

Here are the pertinents, direct from Kronaby:

38 mm, Stainless steel 316L, Rose gold tone PVD

Double domed sapphire crystal with AR coating

Blue metal plated circular brush with applied indexes

Rose gold tone

18 mm dark blue Italian vegetal tanned leather strap, Rose gold tone buckle18

10 bar/100 metres

Kronaby connected movement BT002, 2-hand-bi-directional micro stepping motor, Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy (BLE), vibration motor, accelerometer

Battery Life up to two years (depending on use), CR3032 coin cell

Kronaby App working with (or later version) Android 5.0 and 

iOS 9  

The suggested retail price is 395,00 € 
It is important to note that the Kronaby collection is currently available in limited markets, and I will assume that the US price will be whatever the conversion rate bares, but we will see.

The additional connected functions of the watch itself are assigned to the crown, and the two push pieces (2 o'clock and 4 o'clock).  It bears mentioning that in terms of actual functions you are limited in terms of how many can be utilized without making an addition/adjustment via the Kronaby APP on your phone.  There are (at present) 9 functions to choose from, with only 3 that can be used at any given time (1 for the crown, 1 for the upper push piece, 1 for the lower push piece).  Now in fairness, the majority of functions that you might want are not necessarily dependent upon activation from your watch, and include the filtered notifications that trigger the watch to vibrate (one, two or three "buzzes") to get your attention.  The vibration is, perhaps, a bit too gentle.  I have missed more than a few notifications.  Having said that, here are the various notifications:

PEOPLE - this enables you to select different people from your contacts list and receive a buzz (or buzzes) when they are trying to reach you.

GET MOVING - this notifies you when you've been stationary for an hour.

CALENDAR - this notifies you when an appointment (via your calendar) is coming up.

ALARM - essentially like any other alarm function - watch vibrates at the appointed time.

It also gives you the option of various APP notifications:
Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Messenger, Twitter and WhatsApp.  As my students are WhatsApp addicts, I have opted to leave that one off ; )

And as I said, these are not dependent upon a button assignment so you can have them all at the same time.

But then we get to the features, and these are divided up into two sets.  One set operated via the crown, the other via the pushers.

Currently, the crown offers a choice of:

1.  Daily hundred - this essentially allows you to track your steps on the watch face.  IMPORTANT - you can still get that also get that information via the Activity section which gives you a running total - but this requires you to look at the APP on your phone rather than the watch itself.

2.  Date - essentially shows you the date (i.e. 1, 2, 3, etc.) 

3.  Second time - this is a second time zone.  This is the option that I chose as it is the most useful for me.

4.  Timer - essentially a count down.  

And then you have five other features to chose from that can be assigned to the pusher buttons:

1.  Find phone - I love this feature, hit the button, it connects to your phone which then sends a signal.  I have this one assigned to the bottom pusher.

2.  Music control - allows you to adjust the volume of you iTunes, etc.

3.  Camera - essentially a "shutter release" button on your watch.

4.  Remember this spot - remembers your location, great for finding your car, bike, etc. 

5.  Walk me home - allows you to set-up a friend or family member as a safety contact.  You press the pusher and your contact can see your location on a map.  Your location is updated each time you hit the pusher.  This can also be used as an emergency signal when you hold the pusher for 3 seconds.  This is a VERY useful feature.

As near as I can figure, Kronaby is using their own proprietary modules and utilizing (it would appear) a Swiss quartz movement.  

Overall, the watch was very comfortable to wear and it is quite good looking as well.  Interesting to relate that it took a few days for all of the features to "sync" completely, but at this point they all work well.

Now when I was at the launch, there was a bit of a different sense as to the total number of features the watch could offer at any given time. The impression that was given was that all of the functions were there to choose from, but there was not an understanding conveyed as to just how many features could be used at any given time, and the likely need to shift them around on your phone's APP should you wish to utilize something other than the three currently assigned at any given time.  This is something that the folks at Kronaby will want to make as clear as possible to customers to avoid potential complaints.  If you know that you are limited to 3 of the features at a given time, you will adapt your expectations accordingly.

I was also curious as to how good the customer support would be, and this was a bit of a curiously strange and not 100% satisfactory interaction.  But in fairness, Kronaby is pretty much brand new and it will take some time for all of the bugs to get worked out.  In fairness, the request was made over the weekend, and a response was received late morning Monday - not too bad in terms of time frame.  The actual instructions received were not really clear, and could have been better.  I understand that English might not have been the first language of the person who replied to me, but the easy solution to this is to have prepared (canned) responses that the customer service agent can simply cut and paste and drop into the reply.  This will also help solve the language gap.  Again, this is something that in time will be smoother.

Also, per the Kronaby site there is also a Reject Call function which I believe would be operated via the crown, but there is no mention of it in the APP that I could find, so I am not sure if it is, essentially, hardwired in?  If the website is anything to go by, pushing the crown when the phone rings automatically rejects the call, at least that is what I would deduce, so I will give it a try shorty.

One other curiosity - nowhere in the packaging that the watch came in, nor on the website, are there any DIRECTIONS about the need for the APP, where you would obtain the APP, etc.  And I realize that it would be easy to assume that people would simply understand the need to do this and visit the APP Store, but having manned the customer service lines for a watch brand in the past, I can tell you that you should never, ever assume anything.  Consider that at least in the US, it is likely that there will be a fair amount of direct, online sales.  Or perhaps a watch that is given as a gift.  Wouldn't it make sense to ensure that the person receiving the watch knows EXACTLY what they need to do?  And I make this point because the lack of this type of documentation indicates to me that Kronaby is missing a HUGE potential market - people over 50.  That particular age demographic might not seem sexy, but they are perhaps one of the best potential customer groups that Kronaby could have.  People who want the traditional look and feel of a watch, and would appreciate and make use of the connected features of the Kronaby watch.

So all in all?  A very nice watch at a good price point.  Kronaby already has a tough row to hoe as there are quite a few competitors already in the various market spaces.  Several brands are already out there that offer not dissimilar watches with very similar features at lower prices in more market segments.

Me personally?  I'd really like to see them succeed, but ultimately that will be up to them.  They are, unfortunately, a wee bit late to the dance.  But if they can tighten up and focus, and connect a bit better with people other than celebrity fashionistas?  Well they just might make it ; )

Enjoy your watches.



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