The Martian Voice Command Envoy tries hard make you think it’s not a smartwatch. The model I tested, a black faux diver with a non-working bezel and quartz movement, looks more like a drugstore Timex than a piece of precision electronics. However, hidden inside the normal-sized case is one of the better notification systems I’ve used.
The company has been making smartwatches since the dawn of the wearable revolution. Originally a solid competitor to Pebble, Martian has slowly moved into a position of power in the “I want a watch that looks like a watch” camp. By offering what are essentially slightly thicker quartz watches, they succeed consistently at this goal.
What can this new model do? Priced at $249 the watches basically offer OLED notifications in a little window under the face and a discrete speaker and microphone that lets you communicate with iOS or Android. That’s it. There are no step trackers nor are there any apps. It’s basically a little praetorian guard on your wrists that reminds you that you are mortal and that you can look up zero divided by zero via Siri’s voice control. You will be able to buy them at Bloomingdales next month.
So why do you want it? Well, as I said before, it looks just like a regular watch. The tendency of modern watches to look like robotic egg sacs is pervasive and these buck that trend. Furthermore, the simplicity of the offering definitely makes things more interesting for people who don’t need or want too many distractions. That said, the watch doesn’t do much in the way of even basic Android or Apple Watch functionality. This is fine, but you need to be aware of it before embarking on a Martian mission.
Like the Horological Smartwatch, Martian makes you choose: do you want aesthetics over function? Simplicity over power? Price over apps? It’s a personal choice and one not undertaken lightly. However, the price and styling make the choice a bit easier, especially for folks who just want a watch that does a few things and not a wrist computer that does it all.