If there’s one piece of tech that can really change lives, that’s definitely the smartwatch. Though fitness and activity trackers have existed since the 1960s, the smartwatch took things a step further by adding extra features that make life easier — and they can literally save your life. There were many great smartwatch and wearable releases in 2022, and although most of them may have been incremental updates, a few of them truly stand out from the crowd.
Winner: Apple Watch Ultra
Following persistent rumors that Apple was working on a more “rugged” Apple Watch, Apple finally delivered this year with the Apple Watch Ultra. Though it’s designed to be for those who need the extra durability, the Apple Watch Ultra is really for everyone, not just those who plan to go deep sea diving, hike up a mountain, or do other extreme activities.
The Apple Watch Ultra has an all-new design, as well as a bigger case size (49mm) than all previous models of the Apple Watch. Since it’s designed for rugged activities, it’s made with titanium, which offers the best durability while also remaining incredibly lightweight (so it doesn’t get in the way). There’s also an all-new Action Button, which defaults to bring up Workout mode, but you can also customize it to bring up other actions. The Action Button also activates the new emergency siren that can be heard up to 180 meters away, which is very useful when you’re stranded in the middle of the wilderness.
Working out with the Apple Watch Ultra isn’t drastically different from other models, including the Apple Watch Series 8. However, it has L1 and L5 GPS antennas that provide more accurate location data. This is also beneficial with the new Emergency SOS via satellite and crash detection features, as well as the Compass app with its Backtrack functionality. The Wayfinder watch face is another helpful tool, which includes latitude and longitude information.
Finally, the Apple Watch Ultra’s larger size means a larger battery that is 76% bigger than the Series 8 and SE 2 models. With this, you get around 36 hours on a single charge without cellular data, and with Low Power mode on watchOS 9, that can be extended to around 60 hours. Thoughis a bit pricey, there is tremendous value here in terms of design and materials, as well as functionality, and — of course — long-lasting battery life.
Runner up: Montblanc Summit 3
While the Montblanc Summit 3 is not the best smartwatch out there, it’s one of the most important. That’s because it was the first non-Samsung smartwatch to ship with Google’s Wear OS 3, even beating Google to the punch before it launched the Pixel Watch. However, aside from a beautiful design with luxury materials, the Summit 3 is quite expensive for the limited features you get, though it is the cheapest way to get a Montblanc watch, technically. It’s not the first smartwatch we recommend, but as a milestone for Wear OS, its importance is undeniable.
Honorable mention: Oura Ring Horizon
Oura Ring came out with the third generation of its smart ring in 2021, but it only came in the Heritage style, which has a flattened top and a more masculine appearance. This year, Oura launched the Horizon version of the third-generation ring, which carries a more traditional circular design, and it now comes in rose gold — though for a price. The Horizon still has all of the great features of the third-generation ring: 24/7 heart rate tracking, blood oxygen levels and body temperature when sleeping, sleep monitoring, period prediction, and more. The longer you wear the Oura Ring, the more insights it can provide for your overall well-being. To get all of that in a ring — and one that really does look like a normal ring — is mighty impressive.