The connected health market is booming. Wearables and other health-focused connected products are multiplying, and CES 2019 is proof of this. The French brand, Withings, took the opportunity to unveil the very first analog watch capable of recording an electrocardiogram. Apple opened the door to this with its Apple Watch Series 4, but Withings (ex-Nokia) continues and democratizes the concept. Now available in stores, we were able to try it for several weeks and here is our full review.
- ✓Effective ECG measurement
- ✓Battery life
- ✕No real GPS
An affordable watch
While the ECG functionality of the Apple Watch Series 4 has already proven its worth in the United States by saving lives, it is still not affordable, financially speaking. Good news, things are changing with the Withings Move ECG.
It took a few months to see the Withings Move ECG finally accessible to the general public. The new analog watch from the pioneer of connected health and connected analog watches has therefore been available since the beginning of September at a price of £129.95.
Two colours are available for the dials: black and white, followed by silicone bracelets in different colours: mint, blue, grey, yellow and red.
A smooth evolution
Aesthetically speaking, the Withings Move ECG does not change much compared to the Steel. The brand retains the design of the analog watch . A good decision since many users avoid smartwatches because of their look.
There is a 38 mm diameter watch face with three hands, the first two of which indicate the time, while the third shows the progress of the activity (from 0 to 100%) according to the step objective defined in the companion application, Health Mate.
The strap supplied by default is made of grey silicone and is pleasant to wear. It is ideal for sports activities as well. You are not afraid of smelly sweat with this. If you are not satisfied, you can always easily change to another 20 mm bracelet.
On the wrist, the watch is easily forgotten, and its classic design makes it easy to confuse it with a non-connected watch. This is enough to seduce a wide audience, both male and female.
A connected watch
Despite its design, the Move ECG is a connected watch. It also offers functionalities for monitoring activities (calories burned, number of steps, distance, floors...) and sleep (analysis of its duration and the different sleep cycles in particular). You can use it during walking, running, swimming (waterproof to 50 meters) or even cycling sessions. You can press and hold the button to start a workout as well.
The watch even offers an altimeter, so you won't find a real GPS chip inside but a connected GPS system. It's a choice certainly dictated by a desire for battery life. Anyway, if you are looking for a watch more oriented for monitoring your sporting activities, the Steel HR Sport is more appropriate. The Move ECG records your heart rate only when the ECG is taken. Also, forget about any possibility of receiving notifications, as the absence of a second screen also plays against the Move ECG.
All results can be viewed on the Health Mate application available for download. The app is simple, fast and easy to use. Synchronization is automatic and hassle-free.
An EKG on the wrist
But in the end, it is not the design of this watch or the fitness features that interests us the most about this model but its ability to record an electrocardiogram. Withings thus succeeds in the small feat of finally offering an Android watch capable of recording an ECG.
The Move ECG can record the electrical signal from the heart in a matter of seconds and is available on request. The aim is to help detect atrial fibrillation, the most common and responsible form of arrhythmia according to the manufacturer of about 1/3 of strokes in Europe. However, 90 percent of these accidents could be avoided with early detection.
Withings is particularly proud of this model that could help the brand get back on track and hopes to "change the game in cardiovascular disease detection," according to Eric Carreel, President of Withings. "We have created a simple alert system with record autonomy that can be worn daily, to record an ECG immediately upon symptom onset, allowing early management of atrial fibrillation."
So, how does it work?
The Move ECG wants to democratize the realization of an ECG, since traditional medical devices are often quite complicated, it is true. To perform an ECG, it's quite simple. Simply press both sides of the dial and wait for the watch to take the measurement. To do this, the Move ECG has three electrodes (two at the back and one on the steel ring around the glass).
The measurement can be done at any time and takes about 30 seconds. Once recorded, the watch vibrates slightly and automatically synchronizes with Withings' in-house application, Health Mate. The Health Mate app displays a detailed graph of long-term heart rate trends and an ECG reading history. You are then free to share this with your attending physician.
Compared to the Withings BPM Core, I found ECG recording much easier to do. Admittedly, the watch does not offer all the features of the BPM Core, but its ease of use makes it a more practical object. I still think that a word with your doctor or cardiologist can be interesting before you buy. For example, it should be noted that you should not use the watch if you are wearing a pacemaker or any other medical device. The Move ECG emits a slight electrical signal that can harm a pacemaker.
12 months of autonomy
This is one of the strong arguments of Withings watches. The French manufacturer promises 12 months of battery life. However, it remains to be seen whether too much abuse of the ECG functionality could make its promise fall apart. Of course, it was not with the last month with the watch that I was able to verify the manufacturer's statements. That being said, given the brand and its previous products, the Move ECG should actually last a year before having to change the battery.
After the failed Nokia episode, Withings has made a remarkable return to the market. This new watch, the first one capable of making an ECG and compatible on Android, has great promise. Marketed at a reasonable price, it allows you to afford the functionality of recording an electrocardiogram without breaking the bank, plus the usual fitness features of Withings watches and one-year of battery life, and you may have one of the future bestsellers in the industry in front of you.