Timex has introduced the Timex Smart range, consisting of four touchscreen smartwatches with either a round or a square case. The round model is the Metropolitan R, which you see in our pictures and on my wrist here, and the square-cased Metropolitan S. The two cost $179 each, have a touchscreen on the front, work with iOS and Android, track fitness, show your notifications, and have a battery that should last up to two weeks before needing a recharge.

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I’ve spent a short time with the Metropolitan R ahead of its announcement, which has been enough time to formulate some early impressions. Here’s what you need to know about Timex’s latest foray into connected watches.

Design

The Metropolitan R has a compact, 42mm circular case with two pushers on the right-hand side. It’s made of a textured aluminum metal with a shiny bezel and a plastic case back. The bezel has a sporty, chronograph-style design but does not rotate. It really does look cool when matched with a black watch face though, and the watch’s modest size means it doesn’t overpower your wrist.

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It’s light, at just 39 grams with the strap, and very slim too. You look at a 1.2-inch AMOLED touchscreen that appears bright and easy to read. It supports both an always-on display and a raise-to-wake function, depending on how much battery life you’d like to conserve when finding out the time.

A slim, brown, 20mm leather and silicone strap is attached to my review model and it’s very soft and pliable right out of the box, meaning the Metropolitan R is comfortable the minute you put it on.  The silicone sits next to your skin to stop it from getting sweaty or from ruining the leather. The upper button on the case is used as a sleep/wake control or a back button, while the lower one opens the watch’s workout menu. The feel is rather cheap, with a distinctly tinny-sounding “click” when each is pushed. It is at odds with the high-quality feeling case.

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Timex hasn’t used Google’s WearOS on the Metropolitan series, and instead states the watch operating system and app are proprietary. The app has Timex branding and there is a long list of Timex watch faces too, but everything has a very familiar feel to it. The reason becomes clear when registering for the app, as it links to a Huami setup page. Huami is the company behind the Amazfit series of smartwatches. I’ve previously used the Amazfit GTS and the Amazfit T-Rex models.

Dig a little deeper, and the Timex Metropolitan R is technically identical to the 42mm Amazfit GTR, and it appears the Metropolitan S matches the Amazfit GTS, as well. I’ve asked Timex to clarify the situation, and will update when I hear back.

If it turns out Huami is making the Metropolitan R under license for Timex, it won’t be much of a surprise. Timex has experimented with a variety of different partners recently, including the unusual Teslar watch, and Huami is very experienced in the wearables world.

Using the Metropolitan R

Although it doesn’t run WearOS, much of the operating system works in the same way. Swipe to the left and your daily step count, distance traveled, and calorie burn is shown. Swipe again to take your heart rate. Swipe up on the screen to see the menu with access to notifications, alarms, music control, and your workout plans. Finally, a swipe down shows a quick-access settings menu.

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There is some stuttering when flicking through these screens, and the animation between them is choppy too, but it didn’t get so serious that anything froze. Looking through the workout plans, you can choose between preset options for walking, running, swimming, cycling, and even skiing and climbing. When you start an activity, the watch initiates its search for a GPS signal. The watch is water-resistant to 30 meters, so it should be fine if you plan to swim with the Metropolitan R on.

The app is nicely presented and syncing the watch was quick and easy, while a software update was completed in just a few minutes. Not only was this quicker than all WearOS watches, but it was also far better than when I reviewed the Amazfit GTS. Changing the watch face is annoyingly long-winded, but there are plenty of really good-looking Timex faces available.

The app also collates all of your fitness data and, as the watch will track sleep, there are graphs for that too. I have not spent enough time with the app to assess its reliability, but have noted that you need to dig through various menus to give the watch access to notifications, plus adjust Android’s keenness to put apps to sleep, and that takes time and effort. At the time of writing, I have not received notifications on the watch, so I’ve clearly missed something.

Specification

Timex has not revealed the processor or amount of RAM powering the Metropolitan R, or the size of the battery. It’s listed as lasting for 12 days on a single charge though, and is charged using a magnetic connector that affixes to the back of the watch. The watch has GPS, but no option for contactless payment using NFC. The square model, the Metropolitan S, has a slightly larger battery inside that will take it to 14 days of use.

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I’m wearing the Metropolitan R in gunmetal with a brown and black strap, but you can also get a rose gold version with a less sporty bezel, and a pink blush colored strap. This option is also available on the Metropolitan S, and it’s joined by a black version with a black strap. Regardless of which model you buy, it will cost $179.

We are waiting for the final release date and availability, but the plan is for it to go on sale June 16 through Timex’s own website. Amazfit’s watches are sold through Amazon in the U.S., so this may also eventually be one of the options too.

Conclusion

Petite by modern smartwatch standards, attractive in its design, and with a long-lasting battery, the Timex Metropolitan R on paper solves several pain points that put people off smartwatch ownership. It also has comprehensive fitness tracking with GPS, and a heart rate sensor on the back, making it equally as capable as more expensive models.

The question marks come when we get to the software and the app, which based on my own experience of Amazfit’s watches — a company heavily involved with the Timex Smart watches it seems — hasn’t been great. There appear to have been some improvements here, but only extended testing will show if it has made an appreciable difference.

Still, it doesn’t sound bad for $179, does it? The Timex name is one with considerable horological history. On first look, there’s plenty to like about the Metropolitan R, from the design to the price.

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