- Stylish, minimal design
- Good step tracking
- Six months of battery life
- Tracking is basic
- A faff to set-up
- Not waterproof
The Bellabeat Time is a hybrid smartwatch that combines style with smart features in a lifestyle device that cares as much about stress sensitivity, period tracking and meditation as sleep, workouts and daily activity levels.
Many of the newest smartwatches and fitness trackers now have added stress or energy tracking features to bridge the gap between physical fitness and mental wellbeing. This is often to aid performance and recovery, but the Time’s mission is less about athleticism and more about staying in tune with your body.
Since its launch in 2014, Bellabeat has positioned itself as a startup that champions wellness over fitness, creating wearables like the Leaf and Leaf Chakra trackers which can clip onto clothes, be worn as a necklace or around the wrist.
The Time is Bellabeat’s first smartwatch. But there’s no touchscreen or range of sensors here. Instead, the Time is a hybrid smartwatch, which means it’s a stylish timepiece with some smart features added to keep track of the basics rather than the tech taking centre stage.
That means, if it’s pitted against other smartwatches, it won’t win based on its sensors or its tech. It’s more likely to appeal to those who are attracted to some of the health and wellbeing features provided by the Fitbit Versa and Fitbit Alta – and, at , it sits in the middle of the two. But it’s mostly on par features and price-wise with the more minimal and stylish hybrid smartwatches on the market, like the Fossil Q Neely or Misfit Command.
I spent a few weeks with the Bellabeat Time to find out if it’s got as much substance as style. Here's my full verdict.
Bellabeat Time: Design and build
The Bellabeat Time comes in two shades: silver and rose gold (I tested the silver). It has a minimal design, which makes it a safe bet for everyday use. And, for most people, it’ll fit in just as well with yoga gear as it will with smarter eveningwear.
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Not only is the minimal design a conscious choice for a truly wearable smartwatch, but it’s also smart given it looks similar to some of the most popular, Instagrammable watch brands among Bellabeat’s predominantly female target audience, like Daniel Wellington and Cluse.
The watch body itself has a height of 0.4 inches (11.9 mm), a width of 1.6 inches (41 mm) and weighs 2.29 ounces (65 g). This makes it a little bulkier than some standard watches, but thanks to its plain design and clean lines it doesn’t look it when it’s on your wrist.
The face is plain and there’s a minute and an hour hand, but no second hand. This didn’t bother me during testing, but could be a dealbreaker for anyone who needs to keep a close eye on the time.
The watch body and strap are both made from hypoallergenic stainless steel. On the whole, it was nice to wear 24/7. Although I did need to take it off during particularly sweaty workouts and a few times during the night because it felt a little heavy and uncomfortable after having worn it all day.
It’s also best to remove the Time when swimming and bathing. It’s water resistant at ATM grade 3, which means you can wash your hands with it on and take it in the shower occasionally, but it's probably not going to survive a dip in the pool.
My main issue with the design is the strap, which was tricky to adjust. When I finally figured out how to push the clasp up to adjust it, the metal had bent a little. Fortunately, this didn’t affect the watch itself or how well it fastened after, but it needs to be reconsidered to make it more user-friendly.
Bellabeat Time: Activity tracking
The Time has a tri-axis accelerometer, which means it's capable of tracking sleep and activity. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor or any other more advanced motion sensors, so it isn’t the device for you if you want to track workouts, runs or any other activity in detail. Instead, it serves up a reminder to get 20 minutes of walking time or some light exercise a day – and you can then track your progress over time.
As it lacks any dedicated fitness features, it also falls short on the community and motivation aspects, which make some other wearables so popular, like Fitbit’s trackers. The Time is built for solo, casual beginners who care about overall physical and mental wellbeing instead of detailed stats about workouts.
Step tracking compared: Bellabeat (left) and Fitbit (right)
I compared the Bellabeat Time and the Fitbit Versa side-by-side for both activity and sleep tracking and the activity data both wearables collected was similar.
The Bellabeat Time logged 13,064 steps and the Versa logged 14,251 steps. This may seem like a big disparity, but I did have to take the Time off for a swim session and a shower and the Versa is known for being a little more sensitive to steps.
During sleep testing, the Fitbit Versa had a more accurate gauge of the time I went to sleep and woke up, whereas the Time was about half an hour off at each end. The app does ask you to check your sleep and wake-up times are accurate each morning, but that’s a hassle – who knows what time they fell asleep?
In the sleep graph the Bellabeat app prepares each morning there’s enough information to see whether it’s been a calm or restless night and how long you spent in deep sleep. However, the data is lacking in comparison to the more granular information you get from Fitbit’s Sleep Stages, which break down your sleep into Awake, REM, Light and Deep.
That’s to be expected from a tracker packed with more sensors and an advanced sleep tracking algorithm. But it does mean if sleep tracking is important to you, there are better options than the Time, which is more focused on general sleep patterns and tracking trends over time rather than digging into your sleep data each morning.
Bellabeat Time: App and stress tracking
The Time syncs up to the Bellabeat app via Bluetooth with a double tap. This worked most of the time, but occasionally I had to double tap the face three or four times before it synced.
The Bellabeat app, for iOS and Android, is easy to use and the same plain design that makes the watch nice to look at makes the app intuitive to move around.
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There’s a simple calendar along the top of the home screen so you can easily tap back through days to compare data. Below that, there are six different sections dedicated to activity, sleep, hydration, meditation, stress sensitivity and period tracking. Each section is represented with a little coloured circle, which fills up throughout the day as you hit your goals.
The activity section presents a bar graph of movement throughout the day and accompanies it with stats about goals, active time, steps, distance covered and calories burned. All of the stats from the day are compared with a 7 day average from the past week so you can spot whether this was a particularly good or bad day.
The sleep tab provides the data explored above, along with a 7-day average of sleep duration and the percentage of time you were in deep sleep. You also have the chance to add naps at this stage or click on the bar graph to get a better sense of what time you were calm or restless.
There’s a section dedicated to tracking hydration levels, by either using Bellabeat’s own smart water bottle the Spring or manually adding data yourself. Unless you’re concerned about the amount of water you’re drinking or own a Spring, this section is bound to be the most underused.
You’ll also find a meditation feature, which has a range of guided meditation sessions built-in. Most of these are to a high standard and would give dedicated meditation apps a run for their money.
I particularly liked that the meditation sessions are divided up based on what you might need help with, including food cravings, menstrual discomfort and calming anxiety. There are also a few more general options, like body scan, as well as some ambient sounds. I enjoy meditating but find it difficult to remember to do it every day, which is why having meditation data presented alongside activity and sleep on Bellabeat’s home screen served to be a great motivational tool for me.
Bellabeat was one of the first wearable apps to add period tracking into its offering. It’s great to have this data alongside everything else and, although I only tried it for a fortnight, but I found the tracking to be pretty accurate when compared to both Natural Cycles and Clue – whether that would be the case in the long run though remains to be seen.
The good thing about Bellabeat’s period tracking feature is it isn’t a simple period predictor. It also makes guesstimates about ovulation and fertility timings, allows you to keep tabs on your pregnancy and has a built-in pill reminder. This section can also be switched off completely for users who don’t menstruate or would rather leave the tracking to another app.
Using the data from each section, the Bellabeat app guesses what impact these various elements might have on your stress sensitivity. It then presents a score for the day.
For example, on one day I had a 30% stress sensitivity score and the app tells me I’m resistant to stress. It also recommends how much activity I should aim for, based on the score, as well as how much sleep I should get and how the day I’m at on my menstrual cycle could be impacting my stress levels too.
For me, the stress sensitivity metric has been a bit hit and miss. Some days it’s been good to know I should take it a little easier than usual and I’ll cut down how many times I opt to walk instead of taking the bus on those days. But other days it’s deflated my energy a little to see it’s a low-stress day.
I imagine the effectiveness of this feature will be subjective. I’ve written before about how being told you might be stressed can sometimes be motivating, a little dispiriting or a bit pointless depending on your personality and what motivates you.
I’m also wary of how the Bellabeat Time’s stress feature is being positioned. After all, the app is using all of your data to guess at your stress sensitivity. It’s not taking data associated with stress, like breathing and heart rate, and giving you a stress score based on real-time feedback, like some of the Garmin wearables.
This is a small bugbear, and I like Bellabeat’s ambition to take a more holistic approach, but it’s important to be aware of the differences if you’re weighing up buying one wearable with much more of an accurate view of stress over Bellabeat’s offering.
Bellabeat Time: Battery life
If you’re sick and tired of charging all your devices each night, then this will be music to your ears: the Bellabeat Time runs on a coin cell battery, which lasts up to six months. Phew.
The Time can run on a coin cell battery because there isn’t a super bright touchscreen to power or lots of sensors to keep running. But as a hybrid that’s to be expected. The whole point of this wearable category is it’s full of smart-ish watches, not smartwatches.
Unfortunately, the process for getting the battery into the watch was a bit of a faff though. I had to unscrew some very small screws from the back of the watch, put the battery in and screw them back up again. This sounds simple, but the screws were so small they kept falling the wrong way into the screw holes.
Although a little screwdriver did come with the Time, it would have been better if it was slightly magnetic. That way the screws would have been less likely to slip around. This initial set-up took me nearly twenty minutes and, judging from reviews on the Bellabeat website, I wasn’t the only one.
This process adds friction to what should have been an exciting and straightforward process – everything else about the Bellabeat experience is.
How we test