Wristwatches for Tech Geeks: The smartest watches that aren’t smart

The opposite of a smartwatch is not necessarily a dumb watch.

Maybe you want a smartwatch, but sometimes you might not want to deal with all of that. Having to charge it every day, being woken by the buzzing on your wrist during your afternoon nap just because a bank wants to offer you a loan that you don’t need, and being constantly bombarded with notifications even though you deliberately hid your smartphone under a pillow - these are just some of the reasons to give smartwatches a skip and go old-school instead.

When we say old-school, we don’t mean too old-school - you can still have a modern, tech-focused wristwatch without it being an actual smartwatch. We’ve made a list of some interesting tech and designs in the world of traditional wristwatches, made to appeal to the geekiest among us. Read on to find out how to be smart on your wrist without being, quite literally, too smart.

Seiko Astron GPS Solar

Seiko Astron GPS Solar

If you have a problem with remembering to charge your smartwatch and constantly running out of battery at inconvenient times, the Seiko Astron GPS Solar is just the watch for you. As the name suggests, it’s solar-powered, so you don’t need to worry about even the occasional trip to the service centre for a change of battery. Its biggest tech draw is, of course, the fact that it can use GPS to fetch the correct time no matter which part of the world you are in - perfect for the frequent traveller.

There are different variants of the Seiko Astron GPS Solar depending on colour and design, but the core functionality is the same across all. The Astron range starts at 1,75,000 in India and features a modern, stylish all-metal design that goes rather well with the technological aspects of this watch and the formal-yet-everyday look and feel.

Casio Edifice Sospensione Tough Solar Bluetooth ECB-2000PB

Casio Edifice Sospensione Tough Solar Bluetooth

While Casio’s most popular sub-brand is undoubtedly a fair bit more popular, there’s some real value and inspiration to be found in the rather capable Edifice range as well. The Edifice Sospensione ECB-2000PB features the Japanese watchmaker’s excellent Tough Solar technology, which allows the watch to charge easily with exposure to sunlight and artificial light. Additionally, it can keep functioning and maintain the time for months in the dark - unlikely scenarios, but it’s a reference to just how resilient this watch is.

There’s also Bluetooth connectivity, but don’t think of this as how Bluetooth typically works. On the Edifice ECB-2000PB, Bluetooth connectivity is used to synchronise the time when connected to your smartphone (both automatically and manually), as well as letting you change settings conveniently on your phone, logging your location at will, and causing your phone to ring when you can’t find it easily (assuming it’s in Bluetooth range). The racing-style design featuring carbon fibre elements is just the icing on top for this 22,995 wristwatch.

Casio Pro Trek

Casio Pro Trek

Yet another of Casio’s seriously underrated watch ranges is Pro Trek, which is perhaps the most technically advanced range from the company that you can buy. Competing with outdoor-focused smartwatches from brands such as Garmin, the Pro Trek range offers various outdoor-friendly features such as sunrise and sunset time display, a triple sensor for compass, altitude and pressure measurement, and Tough Solar tech for stable solar charging of the internal battery.

Pro Trek watches are also built tough and made to withstand the elements. As the name suggests, they’re made to wear outdoors and in challenging conditions, as well as assist climbers and trekkers with getting around when out and about. The watches are rated to handle extreme cold temperatures and also come with high water resistance. Prices start at 15,000 and go up to 25,000.

Luminox Bear Grylls Survival

Luminox Bear Grylls Survival

The Swiss are known for making some of the best old-school wristwatches in the world, but not all Swiss watches have to look a certain way. You can get something that fits into a much more catchy and modern aesthetic, such as the Luminox Bear Grylls Survival watch. With an interesting look that prioritises visibility and also features a compass on the strap, the Bear Grylls watch is one for fans of the outdoors and of the famous TV personality’s survival shows.

Another key aspect of Luminox watches is the use of tritium inserts in the watch hands and dial markers. These are designed to offer long-term luminescence without needing to be charged by a light source, as is the case with phosphorescent inserts. This means that Luminox watches are particularly well visible in the dark, and continue to be so even if you’re in the dark for a long time. The 92,200 Bear Grylls watch here is also plenty water resistant, rated for up to 300m.

Fossil Star Wars Collection

Fossil Star Wars

This one is less about the tech and more about the pop culture fandom - Star Wars fans will love the new collection from Fossil. With prices starting at 12,495, the Fossil Star Wars range features various designs from the popular fictional universe, including some featuring Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, R2D2, Luke Skywalker, and more. 

The top-end variants also come with automatic movements, while the entry-level options feature simpler but more durable silicone straps. These are the ultimate fashion accessories for pop-culture nerds, and some of the limited edition variants could go on to become collector’s items as well.