As devices designed to be worn 24/7, it stands to reason that fitness trackers should look good on your wrist. Some of the newer, and more compelling, branches of these gadgets are fitness trackers that look like traditional wristwatches. The Nevo Balade Parisienne ($169) is one such timepiece, joining the likes of the Withings Steel as a fitness tracker in disguise. However, this watch isn't much more than a pretty face.
At first glance, the Nevo looks like any other analog wristwatch. Similar to the Withings Activite, the Nevo has a minimalist look, with only an hour and minute hand, and only tick marks (and not numbers) to mark the passage of time.
While not as slim as Withings' offerings, the Nevo nonetheless is a very elegant timepiece that doesn't overpower smaller wrists. Its 42-millimeter stainless steel case is larger than that of the Withings (33.6 mm), and at 12 mm thick, is chunkier.
The Balade Parisienne is something I could see wearing every day, but it doesn't call attention to itself, like flashier (and larger) smartwatches such as the Fossil Q Founder. Still, with its leather band, it’s too nice a watch to take running or on a sweaty workout.
Although the Nevo looks like a traditional analog watch, behind each of the tick marks is a multicolored LED that illuminates to show various status updates; it's a clever way to deliver information while still retaining that classic watch look.
Three buttons on the right side of the watch control the Nevo's functions: The top button shows your activity progress and lets you change modes, the middle button lets you set the time and the bottom button lets you control functions on your phone.
The middle button is a traditional crown; you have to pull it out and twist it to set the time on the watch. (That's if you want to manually set it; otherwise, the time gets set automatically when you pair it with your phone). It's a lot less fun than the Withings Activite, which lets you rotate the dials by using your phone.
The watch face is protected by mineral glass, and the watch itself is waterproof to 5 atmospheres, which is approximately 165 feet underwater.
Nevo offers the Balade Parisienne in four styles, each of which cost $169: Tertre, which has a white face and a tan and blue leather band; Lepic, which has the white face but a black and red band; Saules, which has the black and red band, but a dark gray face; and Ravignan, which has a black face and an all-black band.
Down to its name, Nevo's app (My Timepiece) is straightforward, if a bit boring. Along the bottom are icons for Activity, Sleep, Notifications, Settings and Camera. Selecting one changes the top part of the screen; pick Activity, and you see a large circle showing how many steps you've taken, your goal for the day and so forth.
The most interesting feature of the Nevo is that you can take a photo with your phone's camera by pressing one of the buttons on the watch. It's handy if you want to take, say, a group portrait, but don't want to set a timer. Unfortunately, you have to have Nevo's My Timepiece app open, specifically to the camera tab. It's a lot less practical than using your phone's native camera app.
The Notifications panel lets you determine what will set the Nevo buzzing and blinking: calls, texts, other alerts, alarms and inactivity reminders.
Unlike most other fitness apps, you can't link the data from the Nevo to MyFitnessPal, Apple HealthKit or any other service. That's especially important, as there's no diet tracking from within Nevo's app.
The Nevo was very precise, accurately counting 300 paces almost exactly. As I wore the watch and my step count climbed, it was neat to see the LEDs light up, indicating that I was getting closer and closer to my goal. However, this wearable can't count stairs climbed or distinguish between different types of activities, such as cycling or swimming.
Where most fitness bands can automatically launch sleep-tracking mode, the Nevo requires you to manually engage it (by long-pressing the top button). It's a bit disruptive, especially if you're nodding off.
If the 3 o'clock LED indicator flashes three times on the dial when you're pushing the top button, your watch is in Sleep mode. To put it back in Activity mode, push and hold the top button until the LED indicator blinks once.
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Similar to other watch-style fitness trackers, the Nevo uses a traditional coin-cell battery that will last several months before needing to be replaced.
While I like the look of the Nevo Balade Parisienne, like any piece of technology, the hardware is only half the equation. Unfortunately, Nevo's app doesn't measure up to the competition. It doesn't link to other fitness apps and its one unique feature — the ability to use the watch as a shutter button for your phone — feels half-baked.
If you're looking for a watch-style fitness tracker, I suggest the $169 Withings Activite Steel, or wait for the Withings Steel HR; although we have yet to test it, that $179 device will also have a heart rate monitor built in — a much more practical feature for the price.