I used to say I wouldn’t ever get a smart watch – all about the Swiss Mechanical timepieces.Well I crumbled and I recently got myself a new Apple Watch 2 with Nike+.

The Series 2 is the new version of the Apple Watch and is mainly targeting the sports market. It now includes Heart Rate Monitor, GPS, it’s waterproof and if you go for the Nike version a swanky lightweight, perforated strap.

The Nike+ edition is essentially the same as the Series 2 but with a different luminous strap (depending on which you go for), some fancy Nike watch faces and preloaded with the Nike NRC app – but let’s face it, it looks cool.

I got it for £99 from Fitness Rewards [blog -> http://wp.me/p7BEA4-eF Link for quote -> http://www.fitnessrewards.co.uk/a042%5D

Activity points table for Apple Watch

The way that it works with Fitness Rewards is that you pay £69/£99 depending on which version you choose then you pay month by month depending on how active you are – i.e. do nothing, you’ll pay £12.50 a month for two years, be active and get 40pts a week – you pay £0 and not another penny.

The Watch itself…

It’s pretty…I went for the 42mm Nike + version and it looks really good. I am more than happy to use this doing workouts as I am around the office or on a night out (not that I go out very often). The straps are interchangeable too so you can mix it up depending on what you’re using it for that day.


The screen is really bright, it’s touchscreen and it’s easy to navigate. The 42mm isn’t huge like some of the Garmin models out there, but it doesn’t need to be – it’s small  but perfectly formed.

Setup is really simple, you link it to you iphone via Bluetooth and it takes you through a step-by-step process and automatically downloads all the apps on your phone that are available onto the watch – I did go through and remove a few apps that I didn’t think useful on my watch afterwards – again very simple.

Depending on how many apps you have, you’re up and running with half an hour.

The strap I found is really sturdy, it’s strong as durable and big enough for my wrist comfortably. In the box there is a smaller strap available if you want to change it as well as a plethora of other designs and styles available from the Apple Store. The straps are easy interchangeable via to push buttons on the back of the watch and the straps simply slide out.

Taking it into the real world…

Tuesday I planned my first big ride (for me) up to Richmond Park and this was one of the main reasons I bought the watch – to track my cycling & I used the Strava app to record, although you can use the apple in-built app to record all kinds of activities.


It did a fab job & I was really impressed by the accuracy and the ease of the app. I could pause and restart at the touch of a button (even with cycling gloves on), it clearly displayed the Time, Speed and Distance, exactly what I needed. Plus after I’d saved the ride, it automatically uploaded it into Strava and you get a graphic of the route you’ve done (I wasn’t quick enough to get a snap of it though).

The one thing with the strava app is that you can’t review your ride/run on the watch and have to use your phone to review any activities.

Checking Strava (on phone) the map looked spot on – even recorded by stop to have a cuppa at the lodge – it was really accurate and clearly shows the elevation and my speed – very impressed.

Treadmill was a different story, although I shouldn’t be too critical as it does say you should do approx. 20 outdoor runs first to improve the accuracy. There is a separate selection for Indoor running, so no fiddling around turning off GPS and turning on HRM – I get the impression the watch is all about getting setup and going quick. Garmin does a much better job because it has learnt my stride length and I find gives a more accurate estimate of distance. You can see my Heart rate varies very little between the two watches- thoroughly impressed by that – you can see below the difference between Garmin, Apple Watch.

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I do quite a bit of cycling on the static bike and after my Sprints on the treadmill I jumped on for a 5k cycle-down. There is an option for it, along with indoor row,  elliptical, stair-stepper and Swim (open water & pool). when it comes to indoor cycle though it isn’t anything more than a glorified stop watch. It gives you calories burnt but I cant be sure how this is calculated as it has no indication of effort and your average heart rate. I would imagine you would need a ankle accelerometer to measure anything more on the static bike.

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Next up was an Outdoor run using the standard app (not Strava or NRC). It was ok, it did pause on me when I stopped to walk to have a drink and the pace seemed to swing wildly  from zero to decent pace. To be fair, the distance wasn’t too far off Garmin (which I switched off when I got into the city because it was impossible to run) and that accounts for the added pace and different HR’s below. Disappointed that there is no option to see Max HR on the app and it lacks a lot of the stats that Garmin Connect gives you.

Heart rate on the Garmin vs Apple watch:

  • Garmin – Avg = 130bpm / Max =167bpm
  • Apple – Avg 132bpm / Max = ??

I’ll give the watch another run outdoors at the weekend and see how it holds up without crowds of people and tall buildings – I expect better results by using Strava or NRC too.

A few of my favourite things:

  • Activity (Step) Tracking – perfect for step counting as I don’t always carry my phone, also gives you a kick to recommend you stand up for a bit.
  • Gym Workouts – I tend to do 2/3 gym workouts a week and tried and failed several times in the past to keep track on what else I do at the gym – mainly cycling and this gives me a way of tracking most activities I do.
  • Swimming – Since I’ll be tackling two Triathlons next year, tracking my wims has been a godsend. I’ve been using a SwimTag at my gym for most of my swims, but when I went back to my home gym I was disappointed to find they didn’t have SwimTags and the Apple watch really fills the gap [Yet to be tested].
  • GPS – The main reason I didn’t by the first series watch. I was in the market for a sports watch to track my running without carrying my phone around. Went with the Garmin Forerunner 225. I must say the GPS instantly connected, no waiting around for signal etc!
  • Notifications – It’s quite nice when you’re running/cycling [must have your phone with you] to know whether you can ignore a call or message or not just by glancing at your wrist instead of lugging your phone out to discover it’s just another PPI call.
  •  NFC Card Payments – we’ve all been behind the person at the ticket barrier trying to use their watch to get on the tube – usually taking forever. I don’t use it for the tube, but I find it really useful not having to carry my cards or phone round with me when running. With NFC I can nip into a store to buy water or snacks (well, Jaffa Cakes or cookies) while out on my run.
  • Breathe – So I thought this was a bit of a gimmick at first, but I did it today for the first time and really enjoyed it. You spend 1min+ & it tells you when to breathe in and out, really slowly. For a while it actually made me quite relaxed, something Ill try to do more often.
  • The plug – bare with me on this one, I spent a good 10mins playing with this while the watch was setting itself up.

 

Things I don’t like

  • Accuracy – I can’t complain too much about this at the moment only having used it for a couple of days, but on the Treadmill it was severely different to my Garmin. It does say you should do approx. 20 outdoor runs to get the Indoor run activity accurate – I assume to get your average stride length etc.
    • This morning I did a 5k run. It worked fine until I came to walk and it paused automatically – I don’t usually have auto pause turned on my Garmin but can’t find a way to change it. I’ll give Strava or the Nike Run Club app a go next time (fortunately I was wearing the Garmin this morning as well).
    • Cycling accuracy was pretty good and measured my ride about what I’d have thought – this was using the Strava app

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  • Battery draining – So the watch lasted me about 2 days, I did runs on both days, so using up the battery quite extensively – see how it goes on with no activities just for notifications and as a watch. The big drain is on the phone battery though, to get notifications it has to be linked up via Bluetooth – something I rarely have turned on & I’ve found it running out of battery much quicker.
  • Bluetooth – I think they missed a bit of a trick not having WiFi connectivity for notifications, maps etc -as it is, it’s also using up your phone data.

 

Would I recommend one?

Yes, yes I would!

If you’re looking for something to replace your Garmin, Suunto, Polar or something to train for a marathon, trail, ultra with, then no – it isn’t accurate enough & you’ll get frustrated with the lack of stats unless you’re a Strava Premium subscriber.

If you want something to help with your day to day activities, counting steps,  swimming, cycling, running and other gym activities – go for it! It packs quite a lot for just a smart watch, compared to the Garmin 735XT and Fenix 3. It’s not and out and out sports watch so not quite in the Fenix 3 league but it does other things so much better (notifications, maps, etc).

Its a fun piece of tech, does what it says on the tin and works well. My Forerunner can’t track cycling or swimming and this fills the gap really well, without going to stupid prices. It’s a good one stop shop that does a decent job – I’ll be using it when I can’t be bothered to take my Garmin & regular watch with me to work, or for those spontaneous runs, cycles or gym workouts, plus I like getting my notifications at arms length (no pun intended).

Got two seats to myself on the train when this notification came through!

Happy Running!

Carl