About 6 months after I purchased an Apple Watch, I stopped wearing it. While I’ve missed the convenience of wrist notifications, I never got comfortable with wearing what amounted to a microscopic and hobbled iPhone on my wrist. I prefer a more classic wristwatch style, but I also appreciate something smart; enter, the Engineered by HP Coach Bleecker Smart Watch.
The Coach Bleecker Smart Watch has a 44mm black ion plated case and bezel, and it can be purchased with either a black or saddle leather strap; it comes in a simple gift box.
Inside the box, you’ll find the watch and what they call a “custom USB charger”. There are two buttons on either side of the crown in the middle; you’ll use the crown to set the analog watch, the top button scrolls through the date & time, steps, and messages. The bottom button moves between the local time and five other time zones you’ve set through the app.
At first glance, the Coach Bleecker Smart Watch is simply a good-looking fashion watch. I particularly like the black watch case with the brown strap, as it will go with just about any outfit. If you are a man, the watch case will be a size you are used to. On women, the watch is fashionably oversized, and the strap has enough holes to fit a wrist as small as 5.5″.
The custom USB charger clips in and off the phone. You have to line its curved shape up with the watch’s charging slot, and then firmly press the charger into the slot until you hear two clicks — that’s when you know the contact is solid.
One of the few issues I have with this watch is only apparent when it’s time to disconnect the charger. You have to squeeze the buttons at the top and bottom of the watch at the same time to disengage their hold on the watch; sometimes it works as expected, but other times it will only disconnect on one side, and you’ll have to try again. It’s a clumsy system, and I’m not sure why they didn’t just use a non-locking inductive charger. The good news is that a full charge will last for up to five days, so you won’t have to deal with this every day. The even better news is that the analog time-keeping portion of the watch has its own dedicated battery, so even if you’ve forgotten to charge, and you aren’t able to use any of the smart watch functions, you’ll still have a watch that tells you the correct time.
Once the watch has been plugged in for the first time, and after you’ve set the analog time, you’ll be directed to start the Coach app to set up your watch.
Look in the Apple App Store or Google Play for the Coach Bleecker Smart app. You’ll follow the instructions to pair your watch to the app on your phone using Bluetooth, and you’ll need to grant some permissions like allowing the app to send you notifications and allowing it to access your calendar. You can tell the watch what you would like to receive notifications for; choices include calls, calendars, messaging, email, social (which includes Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter), and Other (which allows you to get notifications from other apps you’ve installed on your phone).
Notifications are sent as a combination of vibration (either low or high) and a message on the watch’s hidden digital display. The watch will count your steps for you and it will keep historical data of your steps, but it only keeps the information in its app (it will not share that info with Apple or Android health apps), and it doesn’t differentiate between activities.
The digital display will show up to five different time zones (on top of the one being shown on the analog watch face), and it will also display messages, calls, calendar notifications, along with whatever other notifications you set it to give you. I have my phone with me all of the time, but I like to leave it in my bag when I’m with friends or otherwise occupied. Being able to receive only the important notifications without being incessantly buzzed is nice.
The beauty of the Coach Bleecker Smart Watch is that when you are wearing it, it simply looks like a nice watch with a regular analog face. But for those of you who want some smart features on your watch — in the form of calendar events, calls, text, and app notifications — the Coach Bleecker shines. However, if you want to be able to dictate/return texts or accept calls on your watch, you won’t have that capability.
I prefer a round face on my watch, and I don’t need to make calls or answer texts from my wrist. I don’t care about running apps on a tiny screen; I just want to know when I’m getting a phone call or text. With the Coach Bleecker Smart Watch, I have a great-looking watch that can do just that.
The Engineered by HP Coach Bleecker Smart Watch retails for $295, and it is available with either a saddle brown or black strap directly from HP.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: The watch is first and foremost a fashionably large analog watch with a thick leather strap; Displays up to six different time zones; Allows you to fine tune which notifications you do or don’t want to receive through the Coach app; Separate battery for the analog watch means that you’ll still know the time even if the smart watch battery has run down; Smart Watch battery charge lasts up to 5 days
What Needs Improvement: The clip-on charger can be a pain to attach or remove; The step counter doesn’t share information with any health apps