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I borrowed an Apple Watch for a week when they first came out; and whilst I didn’t end up getting one for real I appreciated it’s value and functionality. But for me, and many watch enthusiasts, the thought of an LED screen on your wrist just doesn’t seem right.

Enter Kronaby.

Smartwatch capabilities, but with the build quality and looks of a traditional watch – and a great one at that. And the battery life? 2. Whole. Years.

I was very excited to get my hands on the Kronaby Apex, as it finally looked to offer what I wanted, smartwatch functionality without the screen. Let’s check it out.

Video review

The specs

The case

First things first, in the hand the Apex feels extremely solid in construction. An impressively thick domed sapphire crystal sits on top, whilst the intriguing case design with multi-faceted finishing really impresses. It doesn’t look like a smartwatch, it just looks like a high-quality, attractive and regular watch – which is one of its fortes.

It has a really interesting, almost unusual pillow based case shape – there’s no bezel as such, but rather the case steps out, creating a ledge. There’s a mixture of finishes, primarily optimised by the polished corners and brushed sides.

The pushers are solid and provide good resistance when using, albeit they don’t give you a “click” feeling. There’s a sheath around the base to merge into the case side in an orderly fashion.

The crown is a mini work of art; with the Kronaby logo embossed on the end which has polished sides – revealing a black inner shaft, with a delicately knurled base. The crown is technically just another pusher – you can program it to activate certain modes. For instance, I’ve got it to go into stopwatch mode with one press, and countdown timer with two presses.

The double-domed sapphire crystal is reassuringly thick, providing a real decent thud when tapped. The anti-reflective coating on the underside offers good clarity, but you still get a bit of reflection due to the dome.

The caseback has the Kronaby logo within the centre, and details surrounding it set into a channel.

The dial

The dial appears to be a little bit aviation-themed, with the altimeter style subdials and bold, printed numerals. It’s simple and legible, despite offering a lot of information. I really like the font used for the numerals, it’s clear and simple, and the lumed dot at the hour on the outer edge frames them well.

The printwork is all beautifully fine and striking, with the logo printed within the top half and the dial subdials in the bottom half.

The two subdials at the base of the dial are inset into the dial providing depth and can be programmed from a selection within the app, to display things like the date, percentage complete of your daily steps goal, or a second time zone. The great thing about this is that Kronaby is always actively adding new features, so you might get an update one day with a new function you can use.

The semi-skeletonised hands are long arrows with lumed tips. The white border stands out against the black dial base.

Unfortunately, the lume isn’t the greatest – it’s not the kind of watch you notice glowing brightly when coming inside from being outside. When it does get some charge, it’s a pleasant turquoise colour.

The rehaut contains a minute track, reaching high up toward the crystal to provide an immersive viewing experience.

The strap

The strap is constructed of brown Italian waxed suede. It’s truly beautiful leather, with a buttery touch, but a tiny bit too long – I find the tail end sticking out when usually it doesn’t on other leather straps. The soft textured top grain has real character in form of a multitude of colours and markings. It’s also loaded with quick release pins, which of course make switching it out super quick and easy.

The standard tang buckle is subtly manufactured, with a pleasing to the eye curved top bar. It’s brushed on the top and polished around the edges, with the logo laser etched on the top – rather than engraved, which is a shame.

The movement

The movement powering this model, in particular, is the Kronaby “BT003”. It doesn’t really mean a whole lot to us, but no doubt it specifies the layout of the dial (with the two subdials) and the generation of the timepiece.

The incredible thing to me is the fact that Kronaby claims it has up to two years battery life. For a Bluetooth connected smartwatch, that’s just mind-blowing. What’s more, it’s from an ordinary CR3032 button battery – so it’s easy to source and change. Of course, the battery life depends on the usage, but even a year would make me happy.

The smartwatch behind it

The watch works seamlessly with the app. It’s so easy to connect and set up, and then alter any settings moving forward. Whilst I’ve owned the watch a new feature was released – double press the crown to activate the countdown timer. This just goes to show how easy it is to get updates and new features which is great; as it impresses upon me that this is actively maintained by the Kronaby guys, and they are constantly working on things that benefit the end users and the watch.

The notifications come in three different categories, which are all customisable within the app. When one of these is triggered, the hands point to the number relating to the category they have been assigned. This is most definitely the handiest function of the watch.

The Kronaby app

My experience is through the iOS app, which is visually appealing and easy to use. The steps to connect to your watch are simple to follow (it’s pretty much turn on Bluetooth and press a button on the watch when you need to) and the steps to program in your subdials and pushers are equally swift and simple. The app also manages the software version of the watch itself, so it’ll alert you when an update is available and completes it on your command. Watch the video review for a quick guide on how easy it is to program up your Kronaby.

Final comments

Kronaby’s slogan is “stay connected, not distracted”; which I feel reflects their products perfectly. At a glance, their watches look like any other high-quality timepiece – and that goes in their favour. They’re not cheap looking plastic, or taken over by bright LCD screens; but rather they are classy, elegant affairs for the discerning gentleman or woman.

They’ve got the balance just right; the smart functions are subtle, as are the notifications, but they are there to keep you informed. Really, there’s no way you’d know it was a smartwatch just by glancing at it.

I love the Apex – not only is the design great, but the construction is impressively solid too – it really does look and feel like a high-end timepiece.


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View comments 3


  1. Rich Frost

    Not into smart watches. I have a flip phone!!

    1. Joshua Clare-Flagg

      I don’t think this’ll work too well with that then ?

  2. Uri

    You should definitely ship outside the EU, I want this watch badly!

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