There's only so much real estate on your wrist. "Activity" straps are great, but what if most of the time you just want to know the time — and need something that looks presentable in street clothes? The products reviewed here all function as bona-fide watches — and then some do a whole lot more.
FOR THE RECORD:
Sports watches: In the Dec. 27 Saturday section, a review of four sports watches gave the price of the Sony Smartwatch 3 as $299. It is $250. —
TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Watch: A GPS watch with a built-in heart rate monitor that requires no chest strap and has a navigation button.
Likes: Convenient and user friendly, with a quick setup, simple navigation between menus (an ingenious square button below the watch face that you press up, down, left or right to make selections) and an easy-to-read screen with simple, clear numbers. Heart rate is measured by a light sensor that monitors changes in blood flow through the wrist. You get real running data at a glance — distance, time, calories burned. You can select from five heart rate zones with high and low beeps and get a beats-per-minute bar graph or zone-bar graph of your current run. Back at home, you can send your data via USB to TomTom MySports for a map of the run, elevation, strides per minute and graphs of all your final data.
Dislikes: As with all these high-powered HRM watches, the need to constantly charge it gets irritating. It drains quickly (three to four hours) if you use the heart-rate function and at night.
Price: $269.99, tomtom.com
Polar M400: Bluetooth-compatible heart-rate watch with built-in GPS and 24/7 activity tracking that tracks speed, pace, distance and altitude and your steps, calories burned and how restfully you slept.
Likes: Comfy, great looking and many useful features. It'll help you write your own training programs, inform you when you've reached a personal record and estimate your finishing time at an upcoming race based on your recent training times. I really liked "Back to Start," which gets you back home by the quicker route after a long, meandering run. It also allows you to customize your workout data based on what activities you do — cycling, running, Zumba and three dozen more. Also, the software automatically updates, the GPS signal locks on quickly (about a minute) and the USB-charged battery power lasts a claimed 24 days with GPS off.
Dislikes: There is no vibration feature on the alarms.
Price: $249 with heart-rate chest strap, $199 without; polar.com
Sony Smartwatch 3: Sleek, waterproof Android Wear-compatible smartwatch with 1.6-inch touch-screen display, 4 gigabytes of internal memory (for music, etc.), voice search and command, and a GPS sensor, accelerometer and gyro sensors (to track your motion and location). Unlike other "smart" watches, it can work with or without a smartphone by using the iFit run tracker and other apps.
Likes: Practical, easy to use and beautiful stainless steel case with high-def display. You can fill it with music to play through a Bluetooth headphone, ear buds or remote speaker — without your phone. With the phone in your pocket, you can use the watch to
Dislikes: Only made for Android, not iPhones. There's no heart rate monitor function as in some of the other fancy smartwatches, including GalaxyGear. Some say that the screen scratches easily.
Price: $299, sonymobile.com
Forever? Well …
Reactor Watches Gryphon: Old-fashioned, heavy-duty, non-electronic, quartz movement, waterproof sports watch designed to do two things: keep time and last forever. Made of a hybrid polymer-steel body to cut weight, it includes a light-up dial, a 10-year lithium power cell and the ability to handle underwater depths of 660 feet.
Likes: Macho looks with a meaty, indestructible feel that combines a "weapons grade" high-tensile glass-reinforced polymer exterior with a steel core that contains all the watch's watertight elements. Features include a comfy nylon-rubber band; illuminated surfaces on all dial markings and hands; a forged case back, like most Swiss watches, for a watertight seal; and use of a solid threaded screw bar to attach the band, not an inherently weak spring bar.
Dislikes: Although I loved the watch, lap swimming and a rough afternoon of climbing walls and going in and out of mud and ice at a Tough Mudder event wrecked it, with water leaking into the face, fogging the crystal and ultimately stopping all movement a month later. I was told that this happened because I didn't shove the crown in all the way when I set the time (true, my mistake), but the website says that it has a "screw-down crown that maintains water resistance even when unscrewed." Maybe under normal conditions.
Price: $350, reactorwatch.com
Wallack is the coauthor of "Healthy Running Step by Step," with Santa Monica physical therapist Robert Forster. email@example.com