The Kronaby watchmakers have ventured into the relatively stacked, but pretty exclusive market of smart watches. Before you let your mind wander to miniature computer screens and digital displays stop! If you didn’t know that these watches were smart watches you would struggle to tell and it is impressive that they would still pull your attention regardless. This means that when looking at these timepieces we are able to focus on more than just their features but also their aesthetic appeal, which often gets a bit less attention with other smart watches.
Apex & Nord Case Difference
The Apex is a polished stainless steel 316L and at 43mm is a slight bit larger on the wrist than the Nord. The nature of the movement that keeps the time on the Kronaby allows it to be a bit more creative with the case. If you have a look at it from the side you will see that the lower area of the case and lugs is a bit thinner than what you may be used to.
The bezel rises significantly from the lower bit of the case which reduces the feeling of overall size. The buttons are also placed on the bezel which contributes to the reduction in size due to the bezel being that little bit thinner than the rest of the case. All 3 pushers are polished with the middle pusher having some extra added character in a ridged collar and the black open part of the middle pusher to give some contrast. The Kronaby logo is embossed on the top of the middle pusher. The back is a simple brushed finished with the Swedish watchmakers name printed in the middle.
The Nord has quite a strange design which you won’t see right away. When looking from the top it has a classic round look to it but if you had to flip it over or hold it an angle you will see that the bezel is in fact wider than the rest of the case.
The mid case has several layers of ridging that run down until they reach the lugs. Much like the Apex, the Nord also has a fairly thin lower case.
The ridging is echoed on the domed middle pusher as well as a top and bottom pusher that traded their collars for top hats, which lean more to its classic look.
The lugs have quite a square look to them and they are in keeping with the minimalist theme of the piece overall. The case is also stainless steel 316L but uses a combination of brushed and polished finishes which give it a less flashy look. At 41mm it fits the smaller wrists well and is designed with the intention of being a Unisex watch.
Dials and Styles
The Apex dial immediately jumps out more than the Nord dial. The Apex dial has more accents, bolder indexes and even slightly more pronounced watch hands. The hands are matte white skeletal hands with a Superluminova coat that shines a cool icy blue. The dial is a matte black dial with two sub-dials beside each other on the bottom of the dial.
The main dial and sub-dials are all linked to the software in numerous ways with the left sub-dial having a day of the week and 24-hour functionality and the right sub-dial having a 30 minute timer and 0 – 100 percentage functionality. The Arabic numerals are quite bold on the dial and the chapter ring has the minutes with additional markers in between on. The Apex, which I am sure you have already sussed out, is the more luxurious of the Kronaby watchmakers’ selection and to no surprise has a double domed sapphire crystal that is also coated with an anti-reflective layer.
On the Nord we find a blasted, black plated dial with much less pronounced Arabic numerals. This dial arguably has a more sophisticated look to it and the lack of sub-dials does give a freer feeling due to the reduction in clutter. This being said it does slightly reduce the functionality that comes with the piece but this is quite clearly what they are going for here.
The watch-hands are silver plated and the minute hand has a skeletal look like the Apex. The indexes and watch-hands do not have a luminous coating which isn’t really a big deal in day-to-day activities but could be a problem if you are taking it camping with you. The chapter ring on the Nord has the 0 – 100 indexes used for the activity tracking and quite happily omits the additional markers in between each of the numerals as to stay true to its less is more motif. In sticking to the use of high quality materials there is a sapphire crystal used to protect this display although they have chosen to leave the anti-reflective layer off to probably save on some cost.
Both the Apex and Nord have thankfully avoided the active second counter which reduces movement on the face of the watch and allows you to appreciate the pieces without distraction. The straps are quite different in their style. The suede leather brown of the Apex will appeal more to the luxurious and, also vintage pilot look that the Apex gives off while the plain black leather of the Nord will appeal more to the simplistic, no bells and whistles, daily wearer.
Software and Timekeeping
The Kronaby watches are almost entirely built in-house with only the motors being outsourced. The software is also all developed in-house and is available on iOS and Android devices. The time is kept highly accurate because it is updated through Bluetooth on your mobile device and when the connection is not running the time is kept ticking along by a quartz balance wheel system.
There is a vibration motor in each of these timepieces which thankfully is now able to do more than just let you know you need to get up of your posterior! The notifications are controlled through the app which also has a number of other functions such as a camera remote, decline phone call, music play and geotag button. It will take a very long time to run through the range of different features but I can guarantee that you will find something that suits your lifestyle here. The functions were all included with special attention to their need and the purpose they would serve.
The Apex definitely trumps the Nord in terms of functionality simply because of the variety of dials that it has. It is however impossible, without driving yourself mad, to make use of all the features regularly and you will find yourself gravitating to those that fit your lifestyle best after the novelty of it wears off. The latest entry of the Apex line has unsurprisingly decided to include a stopwatch which quite honestly was an odd initial omission.
The battery has a 2 year battery life although I am sure, as with all things technology, the more you use it the quicker your battery would most likely tire. The signal is maintained through the new Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0 which allows the piece such a long lifespan.
These are two of the watches I have enjoyed most over the past while. I like the ‘connected’ watch idea more than the common smart watch and just referring to it as connected almost gives it a different personality. Both the Nord and Apex are analogue watches that can compete with most other analogue watches out there that have no additional functionality.
They may not have the sophistication of the craftsmanship found in mechanical timepieces but technology can be a marvel if you let it be. Kronaby has set a high bar for other connected watches because they decided to make good looking watches that don’t rely on their software for popularity. They have got something good here and I am looking forward to seeing the development of this Swedish watchmaker.
The Apex initially appealed more to me and I suppose that if I were to use the features regularly then it is the piece I would favour but after daily use for several days I realise that there are certain features that I find very useful and I struggle to sacrifice them for the more fun-to-have features or slightly more complex/rare features. In truth I find it difficult to compare these timepieces because they were both designed to serve a specific purpose and they both met those needs successfully.
To have a look at the full range of Kronaby watches visit their official website here.