I’ve been wearing a Pebble Steel on loan for the past few days. I find it comfortable, well designed and far more attractive than the original plastic smartwatch model. The internals of the watch are the same on both versions and both can use the new Pebble appstore. So the question I’m getting over and over again is based around size. That’s fair, as most smartwatches have tended to be bigger and bulkier than their traditional counterparts.
I actually collect mechanical watches, although I’ve only recently begun and have a small collection. But these watches, as well as some older smartwatches can help answer the question of size when it comes to the Pebble Steel. Obviously, different people have different sized wrists so I can’t say if the Pebble Steel will fit you well. I can, however, show it relative to other watches I wear or have worn.
For reference, I’m 5′ 5″ tall, weigh around 130 pounds and have a 6.5″ wrist. I wear a Large Fitbit Force and fasten it on the second to last holes.
The Pebble Steel doesn’t completely cover my wrist although it’s about as big as I would prefer. Here is it next to my Fitbit Force and a mechanical Mondaine watch for scale. The Mondaine watch case is 35 millimeters in diameter while the rectangular Pebble Steel case is 46 millimeters x 34 millimeters. I wear the Mondaine comfortably on a regular basis.
The Pebble Steel is smaller than the original Pebble, which measures 52 millimeters by 36 millimeters; a noticeable difference.
For a few years I wore a Motorola MotoACTV smartwatch. I still do from time to time but less so due to its bulk. There’s simply no comparison here; the Pebble Steel is much easier to wear.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear is certainly smaller than the MotoACTV but I don’t find it comfortable. The Pebble Steel is again noticeably smaller than the Galaxy Gear, which measures 56.6 millimeters by 36.8 millimeters.
The largest watch I comfortably own and wear is a Hamilton automatic with a 44 millimeter case diameter. With my relatively small wrists, wearing this watch is a stretch; I really couldn’t go bigger. But the Pebble Steel works for my wrist because when measured from the lugs — where the strap attaches on a watchface — it’s actually smaller than the Hamilton. It’s also not as wide.
Of course thickness also plays a part when it comes to wearing a watch. The Pebble Steel is again slimmer than its predecessor in this area, measuring in at 10.5 millimeters thick compared to 11.5 millimeters on the older model.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is even thicker, which contributes to the bulky feeling I get when wearing it. Officially, Samsung says the Galaxy Gear is 11.1 millimeters thick, but it looks even bigger than that when compared to the Pebble Steel.
And that Hamilton that I often wear? It’s about the same thickness as the Pebble Steel and most other watches I own save for the Mondaine, which is a super slim Quartz model.
Having a thin, very flat crown helps the Pebble Steel when it comes to thickness. Look in the picture above and you can see the glass crown of my Hamilton extending above the watch case; fairly common for all traditional watches.
So is the Pebble Steel the right size for you? Again, it’s impossible for me to say.
What I can tell you is that the new Steel model is more comfortable to wear and is smaller than its predecessor. It’s also similar in size to other mechanical watches I wear, which is a design win. Could Pebble whittle the size down even more in the future? Sure it could, although I’d be careful not to reduce the battery size. Ultimately, the size of both the screen and the battery will continue to be limiting factors in future smartwatches as the internal sensors and chips themselves will likely grow smaller.
Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.