The Wellograph Wellness Watch features a sturdy sapphire watch face and a slew of impressive fitness tracking capabilities, including steps, running pace & other running stats, heart rate, calories burned, and more. The watch stores up to 4 months of data, has a 7 day battery life, and has a sleek, beautiful look -- that comes at a price.
Oct 17, 2014
I Bought a Wellograph
As usual, I like to be upfront about whether I buy a device with my own money or whether it was provided to me by the company. In this case, I bought a Wellograph with my hard-earned dollars and wore it around for a bit while ruminating on its pros and cons. Hope you enjoy reading about my experience with it! No matter how I receive an activity tracker, though, I'm always going to tell you what I honestly think about it. Finally, if you do buy things through the links on my site I will sometimes get paid a small advertising fee (it doesn't bring your price up, though). This helps me continue to run this site and do exciting things like buy ramen noodles. Onward!
Data, Beauty, Excitement
When I first read about the Wellograph, I was like: WHAT?! Beauty, fitness data, a stopwatch -- and more ... all on my wrist at the same time? It was expensive, coming to about $380 with tax and surcharges, but I decided to take the jump.
In particular, I was impressed by the many features:
And when the Wellograph finally arrived on my doorstep -- what a product! It really was beautiful, and the packaging was gorgeous, too. The packaging was probably a good chunk of the watch's cost, if I had to guess. That cardboard box was almost sturdy enough to jack a car up with. Heirloom-quality cardboard.
The watch itself *felt* expensive. I liked wearing it, and I liked how it looked. Flimsy, cheap, weak: these words do not describe the Wellograph at all. It was elegant, strong, and sleek. I don't think it's for everyone, style-wise: one friend commented that it looked like I was wearing a men's watch. I think it suits me just fine, though!
In terms of sizing, I chose the smallest watch strap. I have a wrist that measures 5 and 5/8 inches in circumference (women's wrists, but within that category, they're not particularly dainty) and the band fit fine. If you have a slightly smaller wrist, you might need to get a awl out and start punching some extra holes, as there were only one or two more holes to go before it wouldn't go any tighter.
Even though the leather strap looked and felt great, and was billed as "all-weather," I wish I'd bought an extra Nato strap for swimming and extreme exercise. It just felt wrong to wear such a nice watch band while I was out tearing up the pavement in my running shoes.
Behold the screens!
Above are just a few samples of data you can view on the watch. There are many more views in addition to those pictured above, to give you an idea of why they call the watch a "standalone device." You really don't have to open the app to see the data -- it's always right there on your wrist.
You navigate through screens with the two buttons on the side. The buttons feel sturdy, like they can withstand a lot of pressing -- and it's a good thing, because I did a LOT of navigating with them. If cycling through the screens starts to feel tedious, there are shortcuts (like pushing both buttons at once) that can help you move around more quickly. However, the few times I tried, I couldn't get that shortcut to work.
I consider the company's moniker for the Wellograph, "The Sapphire Wellness Watch," to be well-chosen. Though I've heard some people refer to the Wellograph as "the Wellograph smartwatch," to be clear, the Wellograph *is not* a smartwatch -- it doesn't announce incoming calls, caller ID, or any of that. It DOES, however, sync via bluetooth to your smartphone when you initiate a sync. Then, you can view your latest data and historical data via the Wellograph app.
The Wellograph App
Even though Wellograph considers its core product to be a standalone device -- and it is -- I still struggle (as a smartphone-era individual) not to want to sync multiple times a day. I tried not to, but I always did.
The watch does a great job of showing almost all the data there is to see, so when you sync, you don't get much new data. Via the "Activity" portion of the app, you can view steps over a longer time period (now, day, week, and month) along with related data (steps, distance, calories, and daily average over the time period being viewed). Similarly, the heart rate screen shows historical data over different time periods, in some cases in chart format, that you won't be able to access on the watch.
The Sessions View is where you'll get the most data that you can't see on the watch. There, you'll see any of the stopwatch "sessions" you recorded previously. You log a "session" by starting the stopwatch at the start of your exercise and stopping it when you're done. The watch presents you with cool summary stats for a brief time, but the only way to see those stats again is via the Session View in the app.
A downside of the Sessions is that there's no way to remove a Session from your permanent record. I tended to initiate accidental Sessions, for example, an unintentional 20 second stopwatch while I'm standing still, leading my slowest time to forever be something outrageous like a snail's pace 4000 minute mile. At the time that I had the app, there wasn't any way to delete unwanted sessions.
Steps Accuracy, Heart Rate Speed, Battery
I took the Wellograph out on a controlled, 1000 step walk while also wearing a FitBit Flex, Misfit Shine, and Basis B1. I then compared my human step count to the number of steps each activity tracker recorded.
A few more details: To give the activity trackers their best chance at counting steps, I wore very minimalist thin-soled shoes (so as not to muffle the impact of my steps) and walked at a determined pace on concrete, and I did not pause or stop during the test. I counted each step, but due to human error, it's fair to say that this was a 1000 +/-10 step walk.
Human Count: 1000 +/-10 steps
FitBit Flex: 1,013 steps
Misfit Shine: 1,004 steps
Basis B1: 877 steps
Wellograph: 798 steps
I then went on a longer walk for about 40 more minutes, about 10% of which was on a gravel road. I did not tally a human step count myself during this walk. Here are the results at the end of longer walk period:
Human Count: n/a
FitBit Flex: 8,826 steps
Misfit Shine: 10,050 steps
Basis B1: 9,383 steps
Wellograph: 6,963 steps
The steps are lower for the Wellograph in both situations. This is very unlikely to be a hardware issue -- all these devices use standard accelerometers to measure 3-axis motion. It's what happens next that impacts the count: the algorithm used to interpret the motion data to decide what is a step and what is not a step. For this reason, such problems can be easy to fix: if a company determines their step count is too far off, they can improve the algorithm and push firmware updates to users' devices.
One missing feature that the company has already vowed to add is a way to enter your custom stride length for running and walking. Until they do, the estimated distance you've traveled (and all estimates that rely on it, like speed) will be less accurate.
Another step-centric feature that's lacking is an automatic wake up out of "sleep mode" when you pick the watch up to start your day. I found that the Wellograph goes into a battery-preserving "sleep mode" when you let it rest on a surface overnight. However, just putting it on and walking around doesn't wake it up, as I learned to my dismay after checking my stats following a 20 minute walk. To wake it up, you have to press a button.
Heart rate data seemed quite accurate to me compared to my Basis B1 when I wore both at the same time and glanced at their readings simultaneously. However, I found a few discrepancies: the Wellograph didn't seem to update as often as the Basis, and if I stood still in the middle of a walk or run and waited for them both to lock in on a value, the Basis locked in much faster.
Did the battery live up to its claims of a seven day life? It did. How you use the watch does impact the battery life, though. There's a backlight you can toggle to be always on. It's a nice feature for bright days, though the battery lasts longer if you use the backlight judiciously. And if you force sync repeatedly throughout the day, it also seems to impact battery life.
I wasn't worried about having an allergic reaction to the watch because on the website, it was advertised as "nickel-free":
However, I don't think that's correct. While the aluminum may not contain nickel, the battery contacts on the back of the watch must, because within 24 hours of wearing the watch, I had started to develop large, painful blisters under that area of the watch that took several weeks to fully heal. In the end, I had to return the watch. Luckily, the return process was simple and straightforward.
Overall, I had fast and excellent interactions with customer service, but my early email exchanges ended when I mentioned the serious skin reaction. My first information seeking thread (on how to set up the watch) had several very prompt exchanges, but when I mentioned the skin problem in my last email (along with some interface issues I encountered), I never got any response. In the end, I initiated a thread that reached completion along with a successful return.
So. What did I think?
The nickel issue is obviously a dealbreaker for anyone with an allergy.
Aside from that, though, I liked my Wellograph. Considering that almost all of the other issues I encountered with it are software bugs that they company should be able to iron out or features they can implement (like letting users enter a custom stride length, or tweaking the algorithm to better detect steps), I think the Wellograph has great potential in terms of functionality as well as looks and durability.
LET'S BREAK IT DOWN
Tracks steps, resting heart rate, active time and idle time. Estimates distance traveled, calories burned, pace, average speed, max speed. Watch shows time in digital or analog and has a stopwatch.
This data is presented on the watch in a variety of ways via multiple screens. Syncs wirelessly on demand to app, where more data is available.
Hardware & Wearing
Watch form factor (aluminum case, sapphire scratch-resistant screen) with all-weather leather band option and Nato band option. Waterproof up to 5 ATM (50 meters or ~160 feet). An accelerometer captures motion and an optical heart rate sensor on the back of the watch tracks heart rate. Two buttons on the side of the watch allow you to navigate through the watch's various screen views.
Battery Life & Charging
The Wellograph comes with a charging stand and microUSB cable. Place the watch on the stand to charge, and it functions as a desktop or bedside clock. Each full charge can last up to 7 days.
On-demand wireless syncing to your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0.
Access your data via the free Wellograph apps, compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows phones.