Smartwatches are ugly. It’s the one fault that I always hear from watch people, as well as people with certain luxury tastes. We know a few things about watches (and luxury) here at Esquire, and most of us are bearish on smartwatches—mostly down to how they look. But I’m making an exception for Samsung’s new Watch Classic, which after one generation, two years away, has been brought back to life in the form the Galaxy Watch6 Classic.
I went to the brand’s big Galaxy Unpacked event in the Seoul, South Korea back in July. I saw a lot of product, but the Watch6 Classic was the one thing I came home really excited about. The Watch4 Classic was good, but it wasn’t perfect. If Samsung could just pair a great smartwatch with a more traditional timepiece look, they’d have this market cornered.
Well, did they do it this time? I say yes. If you want an Android smartwatch, this is the one I’d go with. It’s as good as we’ve ever gotten in a package that looks like this. But there are, as always, some things that could be improved on.
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
Samsung Galaxy Watch6 Classic
Best looking smartwatch on the market, more sophisticated
The rotating bezel is back
Bezel is slimmer than previous Watch Classic
Good battery life
Decently fast processor and easy to read AMOLED screen
No huge technical upgrades
Still a bit more difficult to pair with non-Samsung devices
Will not pair with Apple devices
Let me start with the good. I’ve already given it away, but Watch6 Classic looks really, really good. It’s the best looking smartwatch out there, bar none. Maybe Montblanc’s smartwatch beats it on looks, but currently it’s a ways off on smartwatch functionality so not a competitor. As far as the Big Three smartwatch brands go—welcome to the club, Google Pixel—this is as good looking as it gets. That alone puts it at the top of my list.
First is the face. I really enjoyed it with the Always On feature, which makes it feel like more of a real watch, not black hole on your wrist. It’s not a new feature, but the Classic-specific face looks a lot cleaner than the standard options, so it does feel fresh. With Always On running, the watch is supposed to have around 30 hours of battery life, which I found to be about right. I never ran it to death, but there was enough juice the one time I went morning-to-morning without charging. It’s a huge upgrade on the previous Samsung watches that are known for having bad battery life.
That said, the battery was the biggest technical upgrade. Samsung added cloud storage, which was a big plus. It also touted a revamped health monitoring system, which can run an EKG in the background and give you an AFib notification. All useful stuff, but ultimately pretty standard on smartwatches. I just kept being drawn to the design of the watch, the looks and the tactile touches.
Chief among those tactile touches is the rotating bezel. God, it’s so good. Instead of swiping a tiny screen, you can scroll with clockwise and counter-clockwise turns of the bezel. The clicks are satisfying, and I found myself using it as much as the watch would allow. It’s a small touch, but one that makes the watch feel a lot more tactile, a lot more real.
Generally that’s where the Watch6 Classic shines. The bezel is nice and tactile. The standard band features a decent faux-leather, and there will surely be nicer options from Samsung and other third-party sellers later in the release cycle. The design of the face is prettier. It feels infinitely more real, more analog, than any other smartwatch, and it looks whole lot better, too.
As what didn’t excite me, it’s really down to the difficulty of cross-brand usage. First and foremost, you can’t use it with an iPhone. This is an existential tech issue though, not a Samsung one. No Android watches are compatible with iPhones, so I’m just wishing here. That said, Samsung isn’t totally blameless. I borrowed a friend’s Google phone to try and pair the watch, and setup a lot more difficult than with a Samsung device. Instead of a few seamless taps, it was a handful of apps and a couple minute-long load screens. Google’s Pixel Watch, on the other hand, is pretty seamless regardless of the phone used.
Beyond that… I didn’t dislike anything about the watch, but I’m easy to convince. Samsung brought back the best looking smartwatch on the market, slimmed it down a bit, and improved the battery life. I’m sold. But they’re playing a dangerous game relying solely on looks. As far as Android watches go, the first Google Pixel Watch, which released October 2022, was an incredible debut. The Pixel Watch 2 is rumored to release around the same time in 2023. If Google seriously improves on its first iteration, Samsung is going to get a run for its money.
But like I said, this is Esquire. I’m in it for looks and luxury, tech specs come second. Right now, Samsung has this market of good looking smartwatches cornered. So unless an unexpected competitor pops up the Watch6 Classic is going to be the best looking and most satisfying to use smartwatch of the year. If you’re an Android user, this is the only smartwatch I’d recommend wholeheartedly.
Associate Commerce Editor
Luke Guillory is the Associate Commerce Editor at Esquire.