The smartwatch field has definitely become a bit more crowded than when we started to write about it here a couple of years ago. Now that we have the “big boys” in the arena with Android Wear and the Apple Watch, everything that the little guys can do to differentiate themselves is certainly of benefit. To this end, we caught word that a new watch, the Guess Connect (ostensibly a Martian smartwatch) picked up a 2015 CES Innovation Award.

If you are not familiar with Martian, let me give you a quick introduction. Rather than focusing on full-screen displays, they have instead gone the route of creating analog (quartz-driven) watches that feature a small display in the lower part of the dial to give you notifications. The big trick up the sleeve of a Martian watch is the inclusion of a microphone and speaker, essentially turning the watch into a wearable speakerphone – also allowing it to transmit voice commands to your phone (you can see a review of an older version that I wrote over at The Wrist Watch Review here)

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How it handles that connection to your phone in this new model is a bit interesting as well, as it incorporates a dual-mode function. Basically, for voice commands to work, it will rely on traditional Bluetooth, which, when it comes to its older generations, is a battery drainer. However, for showing notifications on the watch, it relies on the much more energy-conservative Bluetooth LE (a low energy consumption version). No official word on battery life, but this should certainly help.

Of course, even if the battery does drain down, the quartz movement should continue to function. In this manner, it is something of a similar idea to what we see with watches like the Hyetis Crossbow and Redline, providing a hybrid of the “classic” watch and a smart watch. Then again, this is not a new concept for Martian, so why is this release  of any note?

Frankly, previous iterations from Martian have not been the most attractive watches. Functional, yes, but not anything you would consider good-looking. So, in this collaboration with Guess, a fashion brand, they are picking up some much needed design influences. Sure, there are still some design issues here (handset size and the 6 o’clock index, for example) but this has already brought the Martian technology into an arguably much better-designed watch.

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Will this be the watch to entice you to replace your luxury timepiece? Well, it is likely not the case. But for the buyers who would normally be shopping from the selection of fashion watches out there, the Guess Connect is certainly a way of getting into a more subtle smartwatch without (presumably, as pricing is not yet known) breaking the bank.

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