Nowatch adds watch faces to a fitness tracker that vows not to interrupt you

I first ran into Nowatch at CES last year, and its founders have been hard at work to evolve the product over the past year, packing in a bunch of AI-powered insights into its wearable jewelry that’s shaped like a watch, but doesn’t interrupt you or, well, do anything other than track you and look pretty. Including, perhaps somewhat ironically, adding watch faces to the wearable that is called “Nowatch.”

“Our philosophy is centered around ‘quality time,’ and this extends to our new products, such as the time discs,” defends Hylke Muntinga, founder at Nowatch, when TechCrunch spoke with him at CES 2024. “People need time management tools for various activities. Our approach now integrates these needs, positioning us as a premium smartwatch brand that stands out in the market.”

The Chronos inserts for Nowatch turns the Nowatch into a watch. Yeah, I don’t quite get it either. Image Credits: Nowatch.

The founders say that the Nowatch Chronos inserts have a 20-year battery life and that the battery can be replaced. The ability to insert different watch inserts does open the possibility to include a huge variety of designs in a single smartwatch system — while the underlying tech that tracks your health stays hidden away and invisible — unless you choose to pull it up on the companion app.

The product is a relief within the constant buzz of notifications and fitness goals and the relentless race against time. The company has retooled as a B Corp and is doubling down on its promise to bring calm, mindfulness and a deeper understanding of one’s body and mind. This is a remarkable shift from the norm, where wearables often create more stress than they alleviate.

The design philosophy behind the device is centered around the understanding that wearables need to be, well, worn — a concept often overlooked among an ocean of soulless plastic-and-glass fitness trackers. To spruce things up a bit, the company uses interchangeable discs made of polished metal and gemstones, allowing users to customize the device to fit their style and mood, day or night.

Bring on the AI

The company uses its AI back end to learn the wearer’s biorhythms and can send gentle personalized vibrations to remind you to calm the hell down, already. The basic idea is that it empowers users to respond to stress triggers more effectively, fostering resilience and promoting overall well-being.

One way to improve well-being is to introduce an element of accountability (read: peer pressure), and the company has taken an interesting tack to enable that.

“We have features for sharing data, like heart rate monitoring, which can be especially useful for people like my mother, who has a pacemaker,” Muntinga says. “I would like to see if her heart rate heart is going into certain zones that might be worrying. Our users can choose to enable notifications to support circles.”

Perhaps unusual for smart devices, Nowatch takes the tack that data rights are human rights, meaning that users have full control over their data and can decide where their data is stored, who they share it with and how they use it.

The team didn’t want to tell me exactly how many units the company has sold to date, but suggests it is in the thousands. He also points out that the company is seeing increased interest in B2B sales, especially in stress management and scientific research.

I love a good oddball curveball company, and it was interesting to see the company continue to grow and evolve.

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