A few years ago, I decided to immerse myself in a part of the watch industry that doesn’t have my natural preference, that of smartwatches. I wanted to find out if they were a real threat to mechanical/’ non-smart’ watchmaking or if they would instead complement it. In the last few years, that question has been answered, with smartwatches now being even a gateway drug for people to get into mechanical watchmaking eventually. Over the years, I have spoken to many people involved in the development of smartwatches and have started to get a genuine appreciation for this type of watch.
The term smartwatch is a general one, as there are many different ways to express this concept. Brands like Sequent and Frederique Constant take the analog approach, while Montblanc goes full-blown digital, and all of them have an app for more detailed insights and control. The Pininfarina Hybrid takes the middle road and combines an analog setup with a small display.
The name Pininfarina is, for most people, closely connected to the world of cars, in particular that of Ferrari. However, as a design studio, they have also had their hand in quite a few different objects, including watches. On the other end of the spectrum, they also work together with Bovet, but they wanted something more accessible for their Hybrid watch and teamed up with Globics Technology Limited. As one of the leading companies when it comes to wearable devices, they have the background and knowledge that, combined with the design capabilities of Pininfarina, should result in a winning formula.
At first, I was slightly disappointed by the overall design, which is a bit reminiscent of Panerai, in terms of the size and the cushion-shaped. The technology and the battery needed to make a smartwatch work require a lot of space, so I understand Pininfarina went this route. The drilled lugs are a nice touch, but it is the dial that gives this watch the majority of its character. It is nice to look at with its different textures, circular grain at the center, and distinct hour markers. Its color is captivating and hard to describe because light affects it significantly.
The Pininfarina Hybrid watch is one that needs to be experienced in the metal, as only then will you notice the tight fit of everything and overall exceptional build quality. This is also where I found that the strap was not at the same level. While good enough for its price point, I can see owners of the Pininfarina Hybrid watch switching it out for something else, which will bring it on par with the timepiece itself and make it also look even more expensive than it actually is.
What I liked especially was the combination of the analog display with the digital porthole at twelve o’clock. It not only gives a clean look, but the information is also nicely dosed. The display is very clear and comes with fun icons that help navigate the menus in a fun way. The technology is up to par, allowing for activity and sleep tracking, and features also ECG and SpO2 measurements. An app is also mandatory for smartwatches, and the one for the Pininfarina Hybrid is extensive yet easy to navigate. The same can be said for the crown on the watch, which gives a lot of feedback, allowing you to easily scroll through the menus and functions. For some, the hands even move nicely out of the way, allowing you a clear view on the display. While the connection with the phone is also swift and easy, and the power reserve ample, I wish the subdial at six o’clock would be involved in more functions, like Sequent does with their watches. Granted, you don’t really need it, but it will add to the experience.
Priced at $399,- the Pininfarina Hybrid watch is a fair deal, and while not perfect, it has a fun configuration combining hands with the porthole display. A big plus is that it is also easy to use and comes with a comprehensive app, which makes it a nice stop in my quest to explore the world of smartwatches.
For more info, visit Pininfarina, here