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Smarter diver: Withings Scanwatch Horizon

Withings has given the Scanwatch hybrid watch introduced last year a sporty facelift. The “Scanwatch Horizon” packs the well-known technology of its predecessor in a stately stainless steel case with a rotating divers’ bezel. The watch is available in a limited edition with a dark blue and dark green dial. In addition to the solid stainless steel bracelet, a matching color plastic strap, tools and a charging cradle are also included. Withings is asking for an impressive 500 euros for the package.

The principle of the Horizon is known from the first Scanwatch, which was somewhat delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic: A small PMOLED display is embedded in the dial of the analog watch at 12 o’clock, on which notifications and information about the smart functions are shown displayed on the clock. This is controlled by pressing and turning the “smart” crown. A small totalizer sits above the 6 o’clock position, the pointer of which shows the progress of the movement targets set in the app. If you navigate through the menus with the crown, the hands automatically move to 10:10 and reveal the displays.

In addition to functions such as activity tracking or sleep monitoring, the Scanwatch can also measure the oxygen content in the blood and produce a 1-channel ECG. The watch measures heart rate and oxygen saturation with a photoplethysmographic (PPG) sensor on the underside of the case. With these readings, the app can detect heart problems such as atrial fibrillation and arrhythmic heartbeat. With the EKG, the housing parts and the bezel serve as electrodes; the user has to put a finger of his second hand on the bezel.

Withings has that medical studies occupied and the Scanwatch may carry a CE mark as a medical device for these functions. The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the Scanwatch as a medical device – which the Apple Watch is not because it records the same data but does not derive any specific diagnoses from it. The clock, which will be presented for the first time at CES 2020, should also reliably warn of sleep apnea, but the accompanying study had to be interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic and has not yet been completed.

The Scanwatch offers detailed activity tracking; besides walking and running, it recognizes various other sports and offers training programs for this. It measures the number of steps, the distance covered and floors above the built-in height meters. When swimming, the watch measures the duration, the number of lanes, the distance and the strokes. The Scanwatch depends on the GPS of the connected smartphone.

(Image: heise online)

The watch delivers its data via a Bluetooth connection to the “Withings Health Mate” app (iOS / Android), which can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but the data is well prepared and also offers a PDF export for the doctor’s visit. The setup is straightforward and quick. The app can be set up individually for the preferred sports. The app saves the data in the cloud; a Withings user account is required for this. There is space on the watch itself for about five days of data if it is not synchronized with the app in between.

In a first quick test, the app provides plausible data that can be confirmed with other devices. The watch determines the heart rate most reliably when you are resting, with short-term exertion or dynamic sports there are often different values. This was also shown in the c’t test of the Withings Scanwatch. The occasional sleep monitoring can also be set continuously, but then noticeably sucks on the battery.

The battery lasts almost a month in normal operation, and 20 days longer in reduced mode (only time display and movement tracking). It is charged with a standard USB charger that is not included. The slightly magnetic charging cradle with USB-A plug fits common cell phone chargers that should be available in every household. The watch will be fully charged in around two hours.

In the price range around 500 euros, there are already high-quality manufactured wristwatches with reliable quartz or automatic movements, so the details have to be right. The Scanwatch Horizon does not show any nakedness in this regard, but also does not impress with its insanely filigree workmanship. The stainless steel case measures a good 50 millimeters from horn to horn and has a satin finish throughout. The stainless steel diver’s bezel snaps into place in 120 steps, but is a bit narrow – presumably to make room for the display. This is why the watch looks slightly larger on the arm than comparable sports watches with a diameter of 43 millimeters.

Compared to a 43-millimeter watch with a wider bezel and smaller dial, the Scanwatch Horizon looks large.

(Image: heise online)

The steel band with massive bumpers makes a solid impression and does not rattle. The clasp is somewhat bulky and presses a bit uncomfortably when working at the desk. It leaves no room for fine adjustment, but thanks to a removable half strap link, the strap can still be adjusted quite easily. The tools for this and three extra links are included. Thanks to the quick-release fastener, the straps included can be exchanged easily, and Withings also has other straps on offer.

The Scanwatch Horizon looks like a diver’s watch, but is not really suitable for scuba diving. The luminous material on the dial and hands is Superluminova, but was not exactly applied lavishly. According to the manufacturer, the watch is waterproof up to 10 bar or about 100 meters water depth. The Scanwatch Horizon should withstand a bit of snorkeling and a few laps in the pool, but real recreational divers prefer to stick with their Citizen Promaster and the dive computer.

For 500 euros you get a solid hybrid smartwatch with a well thought-out app that looks like a real sports watch and not like a display that is stretched around the wrist. If that bothers you with the Apple Watch, the Withings Scanwatch is an alternative with a wide range of functions. The Scanwatch Horizon costs more than the hybrid models from other manufacturers such as Skagen or Fossil, but it can also be more.

The first batch of the “Limited Edition” Horizon is already sold out. “Due to the great demand at the start of sales, the Scanwatch Horizon was sold out within 48 hours,” said a manufacturer’s spokeswoman. The company does not want to reveal how many copies that were. “Until the end of the year, new contingents will be added to the Scanwatch Horizon,” it continues. Anyone who is interested can rely on one Waiting list and you will be informed when the watch is available again.


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