If we had tried to compile a collection of the best smartwatches for women two years ago, it might have consisted of a string of angry emojis and not much else. Times have changed, the industry is starting to catch up and we are in single digits for the number of smartwatches our female editors and writers wouldn't hastily cover up with sleeves in public.
Men's watches have a pretty set style, but most of the smartwatches and non-screen hybrids here come in a range of styles, sizes and finishes or even the option to go bespoke with your own concoction. Alas, many companies haven't been able to (or cared about) getting all the flagship sports features into smaller sizes. But times are changing.
Head over to individual reviews for more detailed views on features, design and performance.
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Apple Watch Series 3
The Apple Watch is our current top pick of smartwatches and still probably the best full-blooded smartwatch for iPhone-owning women.
Now you have to choose between a few official options: the new Series 3, the Series 3 with LTE or a Series 1. (Outside Apple, you could also give the very similar Series 2 a look). We'd give the latest Series 3 our vote, though whether you want to fork out for LTE for calls and music streaming is up to you.
It's not exactly groundbreaking in design considering it looks near identical to the original, but it's chock full of great features like waterproofing and GPS. Note: you probably will notice that it's slightly thicker than the original/Series 1, so try a couple of models on in the store to get a better feel for them.
As before, the Series 3 comes in 38mm and 42mm sizes - though you do sacrifice some battery for the smaller size - as well as a range of finishes and band options from the Milanese loop to nylon and Nike + and Hermès accessories. Though it looks nothing like a traditional wristwatch, the Apple Watch is still the most flawlessly finished smartwatch we've seen and can look quite chic nestled on a wrist stacked with bracelets – and luckily there's a huge aftermarket of Apple Watch straps to choose from.
It boasts native apps, which run even when your iPhone isn't nearby, and core features like notification support and messaging are more refined. Plus watchOS 5 will bring more features to all models aside from the Series 1. It's a lot quicker and slicker to zip around. It's not perfect - battery life is only 18 hours of balanced use - but it's definitely an improvement on the first iterations and still a looker.
Wareable verdict: Apple Watch Series 3 review
Fossil Q Neely
Fossil's latest slim hybrid smartwatch, the $155 Q Neely, keeps things simple and stylish. It's seriously light, small at 36mm, fairly slim at 12mm and comfortable to wear on the wrist. Plus it looks almost identical to a non-connected smartwatch.
As well as activity and sleep tracking, which you can monitor in the Fossil Q app, you can also set up vibration alerts which you can allocate to a number on the watch face too. So if you get a WhatsApp, the watch hands on the 40mm watch face could move to the 1 o'clock position, for instance - though this does take a few days to get to grips with but then.
Also nice (and more straightforward) are the features you can set up for the three buttons on the right hand edge - remote selfie, remote music controls etc. Just be careful with the 16mm leather straps as they get dirty quickly - we'd suggest splashing out on the metal band. See also: the very similar Fossil Q Accomplice.
Wareable verdict: Fossil Q Neely review
Kate Spade New York Scallop
Kate Spade's first Android Wear - sorry, Wear OS - watch features the brand's iconic scallop design, which was a key part of its fitness tracker, bringing the detail around the bezel.
In terms of tech, the Kate Spade New York Scallop features a round 1.19-inch AMOLED display, with no flat tyre – although it still manages to pack in an ambient light sensor, which regulates brightness to save on battery life. The screen packs a 390 x 390 resolution, which is pretty standard for recent Fossil Group smartwatches.
It's light on features, but what it does, it does well, with plenty of Kate Spade-made watch faces that add to one of the best looking women's smartwatches out there right now.
Wareable verdict: Kate Spade New York Scallop review
Nokia Steel HR
If you like the look of this monochrome styling, Nokia's Steel HR hybrid (previously Withings) is back and well worth checking out. Full disclosure: It may not be around for long, as Nokia doesn't see a path forward for its wearable health division.
Regardless, its tiny circular display and activity dial sit stylishly on the analogue watch face, blending in particularly well on the all-black model.
The Steel HR is a nice choice for anyone who is health conscious, but worried about wearing a gadget on their wrist. It looks like a regular watch, with silicone, woven and leather strap options in various colours. At 12.5mm thick, it does sit up slightly on the wrist but not so much that we wouldn't wear it.
So what does it do? Well, it counts steps, tracks sleep and heart rate and shows you who is calling or if a calendar event is coming up. The revamped Health Mate app is great and battery life is 20 - 25 days, which is very impressive if, like us, you hate charging wearables.
Two sizes are available - 36mm and a 40mm version - so both are pretty compact and the watch is water resistant to 50m thanks to the addition of sapphire glass. Our only real complaints are the lack of GPS for runners and the poorly designed charger.
Wareable verdict: Nokia Steel HR review
Michael Kors Access Sofie
The first big fashion name with real star power to get involved with Google's Android Wear platform was Michael Kors - scroll down for last year's Bradshaw.
For autumn/winter we have the new Access Sofie, a dressy, blingy full screen smartwatch, which has a slim pavé bezel and comes in silver, gold, rose gold and sable-tone finishes with a single crown pusher on the right edge. It's still a 42mm stainless steel watch, so you do feel it on the wrist, but it feels nice and expensive and it's smaller and slimmer than the Bradshaw. Overall, it's available in eight different styles with seven strap options.
Otherwise, this is a standard, basic Wear OS watch - no heart rate, no Android Pay - with the addition of My Social which lets you set Facebook and Instagram pics as your watch face. Note: there is a small black bezel around the display so the images won't bleed to the edge where it meets the metal as you might expect.
Wareable verdict: Michael Kors Access Sofie review
Samsung Gear Sport
We often get asked what sporty smartwatches are out there for women - well, we've got a whole feature on it, but let's just mention the new Samsung Gear Sport. In size and design, we prefer it to the Gear S3 - particularly in blue with a nice watch face - and while it's not quite as fully featured and slick as the Apple Watch, Android users should check this out.
In return for getting a 42.9mm watch case, a fairly light 67g weight and slimmer 20mm straps, you have to forego LTE and a few smaller features from the flagship S3. For instance, Samsung Pay now only works via NFC and not magnetic strip readers and in testing we found issues with run and swim tracking. Hopefully software tweaks can improve this.
One big advantage that we can't argue with is offline Spotify streaming, which is a bit of a Samsung exclusive right now. Samsung's strap options include silicone, a hybrid leather/silicone and NATO-style fabric.
Wareable verdict: Samsung Gear Sport review
If you're in the market for a really good Wear OS watch that doesn't do much, the minimalist Skagen Falster is a good option. You're getting the standard Android experience, and most of the custom faces that are aimed at minimum designs to optimize battery life don't actually improve battery life any.
However, this is easily one of the most stylish and best looking smartwatches you can get. It's sleek and small and elegant. It's not explicitly designed for women, but its unisex appeal makes it a strong contender regardless.
Wareable verdict:Skagen Falster review
Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41
Sure, it's not the small 39mm version that Tag Heuer promised, but the latest Tag Heuer Connected Modular is still good enough and small enough for women's wrists.
It helps that Tag Heuer went ahead and fixed some of the problems with its larger brethren. It now sports a gorgeous new 1.2-inch AMOLED screen that goes up to 350 nits. Thanks to Intel's Cloverdale Peak processor and 1GB of RAM, it's both a performance beast and futureproofed. And of course, you get all the customizability you'd want from Connected Modular.
Wareable verdict:Tag Heuer Connected Modular 41 review
LG Watch Style
The LG Watch Style isn't first on our list, but it keeps things simple, in both design and features. This is essentially alerts and activity tracking wristwear but what it has going for it is that it's considerably smaller than its sibling, the Watch Sport and most other smartwatches.
It's very light - lighter than it looks - and fairly slim and compact too at 10.8mm thick with a fully round 1.2-inch P-OLED screen. Packing Wear OS with nifty new watch faces but sadly no NFC for contactless payments - to keep the thickness trim, it's a inoffensive choice if not the most exciting.
Plus that price is mid-range, so if you want lots of features and sensors, you're out of luck with this one. If you want a smartwatch that looks like a watch and adds a bit of connectivity to your wrist, you're all set. Choose from three muted models of rose gold, titanium and silver finishes.
Wareable verdict: LG Watch Style review
Michael Kors Access Bradshaw
At 44.5mm, 14mm thick and weighing more than 110g, the Michael Kors Access Bradshaw is larger than its non-smart MK counterparts and several other women-friendly timepieces. However, it can also be seen as a fashion statement where bigger is bolder and thus better regardless of the fit - we're talking 'boyfriend watch' look. Ultimately, it's up to you.
There's pretty customisable watch faces that you can set up to shift from day to night. There are plenty of bands to pick from too, including four 22mm interchangeable silicone straps (black, white, blue and red) sold separately for $40 and six 22mm leather straps (brown, white, red, black, embossed tan and embossed snakeskin-effect) which are $50 each.
The Access Bradshaw itself is available in a variety of styles as well and includes eight colours: tort gold, pave gold, gold/turquoise, silver, a metallic blue and metallic brown. With this now an older generation, the price has come down for some styles, so make sure to factor that into your decision making.
Wareable verdict: Michael Kors Access Bradshaw review
Hugo Boss Smart Classic
Slightly more classic looking and masculine than the Michael Kors option - the clue's in the name - are these two Hugo Boss Smart Classic hybrid smartwatches. There's a small digital display, fitness tracking and smartphone alert handling onboard. In stainless steel or rose gold finishes, there's croc leather straps and a dedicated companion Hugo Boss Smart Watch app.
Wareable verdict: Hugo Boss Smart Classic review
Misfit Phase was the company's first dip into the hybrid scene, and now it's following up with the similar-but-not-completely-identical Misfit Path. While the Path shares the same DNA as the Phase, there are a few notable differences, including the round markers around the face and the 36mm size - for comparison, the Phase is 41mm.
The Path will alert you to notifications, but unlike the Phase it doesn't use the colour wheel to signify what they're for. Instead, it just uses hand movements and vibrations to give you alerts, which can be customized in the app settings.
One of the side buttons can also be dedicated to a special smart feature of your choosing, like remotely controlling your phone's camera. The watch is waterproof to 50 meters too, with a six-month battery life to boot.
From $150, misfit.com
After a rocky start with the Ionic, Fitbit's venture into smartwatches is much stronger with the Ionic. Its second smartwatch isn't just better looking, it's smaller too, making it more ideal for women. This was a major problem with the Ionic, which was too large for many wrists and employed a very angular, arguably ugly design.
The Versa runs on the same software as the Ionic, meaning you'll have access to the app store and catalogue of watch faces, but in a smaller package. There's a vibrant 300 x 300 pixel resolution display topping out at 1,000 nits, and with 50m water resistance it can be taken swimming (you can track pool workouts).
Where it differs from the Ionic feature-wise is the lack of built-in GPS. You'll still be able to track GPS, but it'll need to be paired with your phone to do so. You can still load on tracks and play offline playlists from Deezer and (for US users only) Pandora, so it's still a pretty good independent workout companion. Just be warned if you're buying this in the US: only the Special Edition version comes with Fitbit Pay installed.
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Versa review
Samsung Gear S2 Classic
As rightly pointed out by Wareable readers, the (now pretty old) Gear S2, and particularly the Classic, is a good option for women. It's smaller, lighter and more stylish than the Gear S3 and still has Tizen's beginner-friendly operating system and intuitive rotating bezel. Also available in rose gold and platinum styles (pictured).
It's still not the best choice for apps, though the big names are pretty much all there. But if you're not convinced by Android Wear/Wear OS, you might find you can pick up a bargain with this one especially if you don't need a standalone watch - it has even been treated to some S3 features via updates. More importantly, it's the only Samsung smartwatch the women of Wareable would wear. Let's hope Samsung takes our notes onboard for the upcoming Gear S4.
Wareable verdict: Samsung Gear S2 review
Due in July, Marc Jacobs' first touchscreen smartwatch is based on the designer's fun, retro Riley style. It will run Wear OS, have Google Assistant voice controls and comes with some really fun custom watch faces which can be matched to your mood, event or outfit.
Battery life will be 24 hours and the Riley Touchscreen will come in three styles - gold finish, rose gold finish and black, ion plated finish with a range of chic silicone straps. When it lands, it'll cost $295.
Emporio Armani Connected
After concentrating primarily on men's watches initially, Emporio Armani has now unveiled its first women's hybrid, a 34mm watch with a rose gold-tone case, a silver sun-ray dial with rose gold-tone indices which costs $345. It formed part of Fossil Group's Spring 2018 hybrid unveilings at CES 2018, which also included new variants of hybrids we've seen from Tory Burch, Kate Spade, DKNY and Fossil itself.
We imagine more styles will be added further down the line, but the one pictured above will be with us in February.