Huawei is building out its range of smart, connected watches and – with its latest models – taking luxury design materials to new heights, and water sports to new depths. With the Huawei Watch Ultimate, it’s trying to out-ultra the Apple Watch Ultra in terms of capabilities and build.
Starting with the latter, the latest Huawei Watch has a case made from a metal we’ve not seen before in a consumer smartwatch case. Specifically, that’s liquid metal, which is a zirconium alloy. It’s not something we typically find in watches made for everyday consumers, but its physical properties make it ideal for this kind of watch.
The zirconium alloy is designed for injection moulding and usually for small, intricate parts because its shape doesn’t change or shrink much at all when processed. It melts at relatively low temperatures, and when hardened has a structure that makes it lightweight, but also very hard, durable and corrosion-resistant. So if you want to take it in the sea – where there’s lots of salt – that’s fine.
That’s one major reason Huawei went with this material for the newest edition of Huawei Watch, because it’s been designed to handle deep-sea diving to depths of 100m. Its strong build can cope with the pressure and the metal casing won’t corrode with repeated salt-water adventures.
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The sapphire crystal glass on the front is an impressive 2.35mm thick, aiding durability. The usual fluoroelastomer rubber strap has been swapped out for a more durable and lighter HNBR (Hydrogenated Nitrile Rubber), which can withstand ageing even in extreme conditions.
For those who want specs and ratings, Huawei Watch Ultimate is 10ATM water-resistant (100m) and has ISO 22810 and EN13319 double certifications which – essentially – mean it can survive up to 24 hours underwater down to depths of 110m.
There are two versions of the watch: one steel/silver coloured model with a titanium link bracelet and another darker black/graphite colour model with a black rubber strap. You’ll have a liquid metal case with a ceramic bezel and sapphire crystal glass regardless of which you get. What’s more, both models ship with an extra long rubber strap so that you can wear it over your diving suit.
From a fitness and tracking perspective, the Ultimate has been kitted out with some additional tracking modes. One of those – as you probably guessed already – is for divers. It’ll track depths, duration, ascent rate and can be customised to show you data like the type of water you’re in, what gas mix you’re using, and ensure that when you’re ascending from a deeper dive, you’re doing so at a safe rate.
Outdoor enthusiasts will also get an expanded expedition mode where you can set custom markers on your way out on a long expedition, and then use those to track a return route. And – because it uses a five-constellation dual-band GPS positioning system – it’ll do so accurately and reliably. It even has a dark light mode for when you’re moving, offering a dark background with bright orange accents on screen to make it visible in low-visibility situations.
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Otherwise you get a lot of the same stuff as previous models, including the ability to track over 100 different sports and activities. That includes the running training program that adapts to your fitness and running ability, with plans suitable for beginners and experienced runners alike.
That means advanced, accurate heart-rate sensing plus the ability to test arterial stiffness and built ECG, plus the usual sleep tracking, SpO2 monitoring, stress monitoring and health management for helping you remember to drink water, take your meds and get enough sleep to aid recovery.
Battery life is strong too, with up to 14 hours of use with typical smartwatch usage. Even heavy users who track lots of GPS activities will get at least 8 days of use from a full battery and – when empty – you can refill using the wireless charger in just 60 minutes.
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As for lifestyle features, Huawei’s a little limited here still. There’s no support for offline playlists from popular streaming services or NFC contactless payments for banks in the UK or Europe. There’s also no LTE option for cellular connection when out in the wilds or even an emergency contact/beacon feature.
Huawei hasn’t said how much the watch will cost yet, but given its expanding feature set, ultra-premium build materials and ‘Ultimate’ brand name, we suspect it will be the company’s most expensive watch to date.