Chronos first impressions: The wearable for people who hate wearables

CES 2016: This slim smart disc sits underneath your watch and makes it smart
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People have pretty strong opinions about wearable tech. There's as many Apple Watch haters as there are fanboys and girls. Chronos, the little disc-shaped module, is here to bring the benefits of wearable tech to the haters.

I got to try out Chronos at CES 2016 in a runthrough with CEO and founder Mark Nichol who told us that after the US, the second biggest pre-orders come from the UK. That's no surprise to us - this is about as discreet as you can get and Brits have traditionally been shy about wearing gadgets on their wrists.

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Chronos is a stainless steel, connected module that's less than 3mm thick, 33m in diameter, and connects to the inside of your watch - well, 80% of all watches on sale now - via micro suction tech, not magnets.

Chronos first impressions: The wearable for people who hate wearables

From a comfort perspective, it doesn't make too much difference as it feels cool and, you know, expensive like a watch. It's only from an aesthetic point of view that you might notice Chronos on the wrist. So 3mm is damn impressive but it's not built in, your watch (which has been precisely designed for your wrist) will sit up slightly higher than usual.

"I actually like the design of the Apple Watch but there's less individuality with these smartwatches. There's a handful of designs to choose from," Nichol told us. "Chronos allows you to wear your own watch, with all the memories that go along with that."

The disc handles three main smartwatch-style functions: alerts, activity tracking and gesture controls. The nicely designed companion app (for iPhone and Android) lets you customise which apps you get notifications from plus set vibration and light patterns so you know what's nudging you. The vibration is strong enough that you'll notice it. So far, so smart jewellery for the traditional watch wearer. Chronos also acts as a basic activity tracker and shows you how many steps you've completed towards your goal in the app. This is displayed as a pretty, minimalist dial made up of segments and can be tweaked too if 10,000 a day isn't your jam.

Lastly, you can double tap the top of your watch to control features like your phone's music volume or camera or dismiss vibration alerts/phone calls. You don't have to tap too aggressively to get the Chronos module to pick them up either which is good news.

Elsewhere, there really is nothing to dampen our enthusiasm. The 36 hour battery life could be better. But considering how skinny this is and the fact that Chronos comes with a neat wireless charging dock which you can just pop your whole watch on, that's OK. It's also water resistant and if you're not sure if your watch will be compatible, Chronos has a sizing app to check.

It's a neat solution to the problem that, to some extent, our wrist space is already taken up by dumb jewellery and watches. Look out for a Chronos review on Wareable very soon.

How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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