Although Pebble’s getting all the CES smartwatch buzz with its classy-looking Pebble Steel, watch maker Martian is taking an even more restrained approach.
The Martian Notifier is an exercise in not doing too much. With analog minute and hour hands, the Notifier doesn’t look much different from a regular watch. But look closely, and you’ll see a tiny LED strip running across the bottom of the watch face, which can display any incoming notification from an iPhone or Android phone.
Martian’s previous watch, the Passport, also supported notifications, but only for a handful of apps. The Notifier has no such app restrictions. A companion smartphone app controls which notifications appear, and users can set up custom vibration patterns for individual apps. (Martian is working on a firmware update for the Passport to support all notification types.) If you miss a notification as it scrolls by, you can replay it within a five minute window by tapping on the watch face.
At $129, the Martian Notifier is cheaper than its predecessor, which ranges from $249 to $299, and the Notifier makes a couple other concessions to reach that price: Voice controls are not supported on the Notifier, unlike the Passport, though users can still press a button on the watch to activate Siri remotely. The design itself is also cheaper, using plastic instead of stainless steel.
It’s funny, because Pebble is moving upmarket with the $250 Pebble Steel at the same time that Martian is moving down. But Pebble is also more ambitious, building out a full-blown smartwatch developer platform, and even with the new stainless steel frame, its watch doesn’t look much like a traditional timepiece. My guess is that Pebble wants to eventually appeal to users who don’t see themselves as watch people. Martian seems content catering to watch wearers, with a little smartness on the side.
The Martian Notifier is shipping some time in the second quarter of this year.