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Toby Buckland trials a Smartwatch in the garden...

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See how the renowned gardening writer and broadcaster gets on...

I once ate a watch. It was time-consuming.

Jokes aside, I’ve never actually eaten a watch but I have lost and broken more than I care to count, along with numerous pairs of secateurs/trowels/phones and other gubbins while working in my garden. Hazard of the job. I even once lost my wedding ring *hangs head*; I was only having fun, practising my bowling (the Ashes were on at the time) by throwing apples into a compost bin!

So, quelle surprise, a few months ago I lost a watch which I really liked - a diver’s chronometer, since you ask - and then i spent a weekend annoying the family and anyone who would listen by asking where they’d put it.

Then weirdly, in the way things often happen, the planets aligned and an old gardening mucker I once worked with got in touch out of the blue. We’d made a short film about sustainable woodlands together so I was expecting a chat about beanpoles, but no… he was phoning to ask if I’d like to try out a Sekonda Smartwatch. What are the chances?

Usually, I have to fight my inner Luddite – who still thinks mobile phones will never catch on - but the thought of wearing a watch with a ‘Find My Watch’ feature seemed too good to miss: a function that also helps you find your phone! Where has this stuff been all my life?

But before the benefits there’s the faff of setting up the tech (see bit about Inner Luddite!). Unlike a normal timepiece you take out of the box and strap on, smartwatches… like phones, ipads and smart TVs… require ‘set up’ - with various preferences, including the option of connecting to other devices.

After years of observation, I’d say there are two types of people in this world - those who enjoy following ‘intuitive instructions’, and normal people. However, like going to the dentist - it’s never as bad as you think; to set up this watch, you can get it to talk via Bluetooth to your phone, opening up a whole raft of nifty features: from weather apps, to measuring physical activity, to sending text and notifications from socials to the watch screen.

The ‘find my watch’ function buzzes the alarm - so you can hear it below the duvet, on the shelf, in the shower or in a shrubbery (delete as appropriate) if it’s been lost.

Another feature I like is the seemingly infinite number of watch faces, with changeable colours and (though I haven’t yet sussed how) photos. And guess what I’ve gone for? No, not a flower nor an Arsenal F.C. shirt badge… but yep, you got it - the exact same multi-dialled chronometer face of my missing watch! Sentimental, maybe, but also practical as - like a poster of a missing pet - I can use it as a 3-D replica to ask garden visitors and delivery drivers to keep their eyes peeled.

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So, let’s put my Sekonda Smartwatch through its paces

How does a Microchipped Modern Milly perform during hard gardening tasks, like digging, hammering or chopping wood, compared to the cogs and springs of my old-fashioned Terry Timepiece?

First off, being much lighter, the Sekonda doesn’t tear at my arm or stretch at its straps during vigorous work; it’s designed to measure pace while sprinting, so of course it wouldn’t. It might sound unlikely, but I once lost a watch when chopping at a tree stump - when the strap broke and it flew over the fence! Also designed for swimming - this watch is waterproof, and I do love a dip in the sea - so it’s safe to wear on drab days, while scrubbing up like my fingernails if it gets muddy.

It's a clever clogs, this watch - the clue’s in the name! - with core functions like heart rate monitoring, and counting your steps and the distance you cover; you can even monitor your sleep – it’ll tell you the number of deep sleep hours you’re getting, and set daily targets for improving your fitness. You can even compare/compete with other smartwatch wearers from around the world!

This though isn’t something you should do lightly. I was shocked to find my name on the ‘list of shame’, amongst the smartwatch world’s most sluggish, so immediately did something about it – no, not the gym… instead, I went straight into the watch’s settings and change my moniker to an anonymous nom de plume! I’m not going to tell you what it is but Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane won’t be happy!

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Watch/Phone Connectivity in the Garden... and more besides

I wear the watch for sport too, and no longer need to strap a phone to my arm to measure the miles when jogging. I also wear it for my weekly five-a-side footie game, so I can keep track of half time and call for goalies to switch over - which in our game is every five minutes - ha! And when I get home, I check on the phone to see my running stats.

The activity monitoring while gardening aspect is of interest - but more useful to me is the watch-phone connectivity. Before the smartwatch, when a phone rang, pinged or buzzed in my pocket I’d either have to ignore it, or tentatively grab at the delicate and expensive device with muddy hands – which never seemed right with such expensive and shiny tech. Now, texts, emails and messages on socials are buzzed to the watch face - so I instantly know if a notification is important.

The same screen mirroring is also a boon when streaming music or listening to podcasts – something I like to do in my greenhouse. Instead of using the phone to pause and skip through tunes, I use the watch face.

Conclusions

In short, this Sekonda Smartwatch is great work wear for those of us with physical jobs. And it’s also got me thinking about new applications in the garden, and where the tech could be heading... more about that in due course. 

Toby Buckland was reviewing a Sekonda Smartwatch with a rubber strap… take a look at our latest selection today. What do you use your smartwatch for in the garden and great outdoors? Share your insights and tips below in the comments section.

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