If you travel, a world timer watch is a very handy complication. Switch cities, and you can easily switch time zones on your watch. But what if you want it done for you? That is where GPS watches come into play. Not GPS as in tracking watches, but GPS watches that update their clocks based on where they are in the world. Since they only update every other day (or on command), the receiver part uses little energy, so these are not power hogging watches like a GPS tracker would be. Now on Kickstarter is a new brand hoping to get into this technology with the first four Artstate GPS Solar Watch models (OK, only 2 are solar, but they are all GPS). This new brand is significantly less expensive than the other mainstream brands that are available.
Already on the market are similar watches from Citizen, Seiko, and Casio, but these run from around $1,000 to over $2,000 (I did find this one for $700 on sale). I used to wear a Citizen Eco-Drive titanium dive watch, and I can attest that the small solar cell in the watch is more than adequate at keeping the watch charged under normal use, even indoors, like the motion of your arm is enough to keep and automatic watch wound. Marrying the two technologies (solar and GPS) in a watch that is being offered on kickstarter for less than $300 is quite a feat.
I did engage with the creators of the project (out of China) regarding the price, and they replied that they have experience in making a radio controlled watch, and that they are using some parts from a Japanese movement. They also felt that “We didn’t really mark up the price, if we set the price too high then I think the potential backers will lost the interesting on trying new brand (sic).” So I do have concerns with this project, as I do with all crowd funded projects, but I also know that there are some fantastic values in watches from Chinese brands, and this may be one of them. I hope to get a review copy in, but we probably will not have the chance until after the campaign. I did find this radio controlled solar watch from Artstate, but there is only one review on it. As always, please do your own research if you are thinking of backing this project.
As for the watch itself (or should I say the four watches), they are intriguing. I don’t travel enough myself to justify a technology like this, but it definitely has its place. They are a bit busy with the subdials and readouts, but they are sill readable. They have both solar and non-solar variations, with three different case diameters, but all of them from 44 to 45mm. The solar G620-1 upgrades the stainless steel case and bracelet of the other watches to stainless steel, all for an early bird pledge of $305 CAD, or about $232 USD. As of this writing, they are sitting at about 40% of their goal with 4 weeks left in the project. If you are doing a lot of traveling and want to have your watch always on local time, this might be a good option for you. artstate-gps-solar-watch
- Brand & Model: Artstate GPS Solar Watch models G610 Dual 1, G610 Dual 2, G620-1, and G620-2
- Price: ~ $171 to $262, depending on model and timing.
- Who we think it might be for: World travelers who don’t have a smartwatch.
- Would I wear one myself based on what I’ve seen?: I think they are attractive, but I have no need for the GPS complication, which is the main reason why you would buy the watch.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: The handset could use an upgrade.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: It is an attractive package with some cool technologies, at an affordable price.
Tech Specs from Artstate:
- Movement: Not specified
- Functions: GPS time setting; perpetual calendar; dual time, stop watch, lat and long (G610); and solar power (G620)
- Case: stainless steel or titanium (G620-1)
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Water resistance: 10 ATM
- Lug width: Not specified
- Straps: stainless steel or titanium (G620-1) bracelet
- Diameter: 44 to 45mm, depending on model
- Thickness: 13.8mm (G610) or 13mm (G620)