The TicWatch Pro WareOS smart watch with always on display

The TicWatch Pro WareOS smart watch with always on display

Photo of an opened TicWatch Pro retail box showing the box and watch.

As a Pebble user I am accustomed to an always on display and not willing to downgrade regarding this feature. Consequently I wore my Pebble Time until its time was up - never finding a good enough WareOS replacement.

With a broken Pebble and forced to look for something else I discovered the new (summer 2018) Ticwatch Pro by little known Chinese tech company Mobvoi.

It comes packed with features and a large screen - and that screen is always on. Kind of.

The special thing about this watch is that on top of the normal smartwatch display there is an old fashioned transparent LCD screen. Thats right, the same kind of black-on-gray LCD screen that "digital watches" of the 1980 and 1990 used. This screen uses very little power and and is constantly on, showing the time with large numbers and the date and steps taken with smaller numbers.

Most of the time I don't lift my wrist to look at my watch but instad just glance down at it to see what time it is. For this purpose the screen works really well. It lacks backlight so it doesn't work in the dark but in a normally lit room it works well and outdoors during a bright day it works really well.

But if you do lift your wrist to look at the watch, the OLED smartwatch display underneath the transpartent LCD layer is switched on and with it's 400x400 pixel screen it looks great.

The Pebble was really great at displaying notifications party because the notifications where displayed for such a long time. The Ticwatch Pro uses the OLED to display notifications and typically it's only switched on for about 3 seconds to save battery and that is far less user friendly than the Pebble.

A far more serious problem appeared after a week of use: a skin rash exactly where the heart rate sensor touches my arm (center of the watch back).

Photo of wrist with a red rash where the back of the watch has touched the skin.

My first thought was that I have a metal allergy I was not aware of. My previous watch was a Pebble Time smart watch and it has a plastic back and it never caused any problems. I also found posts by people who also developed rashes and thought it was the result of the way the heart rate sensor works but this seems unlikely.

I switched arms and used the watch for shorter periods, about 8 hours a day instead of the whole day, and wiped the back of the watch clean every day. Two weeks went without problems but then I got a similar rash on the other hand as well. It now seems quite certain that the stainless steel watch back has caused a nickel allergy skin rash.

I got myself a so called NATO strap since it goes underneath the watch as well and gets in between the watch and my skin and is made of nylon. Hopefully it will help. Unfortunately this makes using the heart rate sensor impossible and I also have to remove the strap every night for the watch to fit in the charger dock.

Regardless of the reason, this is the only watch with which I have had any skin problems. I will probably change to a smartwatch with a plastic back soon.