Timex is well-known for its low-tech watches, but the company doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of smartwatches. That’s because it’s been a hot second since the company put out anything worthwhile in the category. Well, 2020 is a new year, and Timex is looking to get back into the game with a new running smartwatch, the Ironman GPS R300.
The last notable Timex smartwatch was the IQ+ Move, a basic hybrid analogue timepiece that came out in late 2016. Before that was the Metropolitan+, another device that focused mostly on fitness-tracking and style. Both watches were designed to be sleek timepieces that track fitness, and the same could be said for the iConnect, which Timex released last year to little fanfare. Based on looks alone, the R300 appears to be a total 180-degree departure.
The R300 hews closer to the more hardcore Garmin and Polar running watches that heavily favour function over form—albeit perhaps a bit thinner. Timex’s previous smartwatches were subtly chic, but the R300 screams, “I’M A SPORTS WATCH!” That is to say, while this isn’t exactly a good-looking smartwatch, it’s not the King of Uggo watches either. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a sporty aesthetic, especially because Timex is keeping the R300 pretty muted in terms of colour. The watch will be available in black, charcoal, and grey—none of the blinding neon colours that you tend to expect from running watches. If you’re not totally put off by the utilitarian design, you could probably get away with wearing one of these all day without anyone noticing.
In its press release, Timex says the R300 is meant to be part of a new line dubbed Timex Smart. These watches are supposed to “disrupt the wearables category” and provide “accessibly-priced, high-quality, and durable smartwatches” for more active folks.
That’s a lofty goal, but judging from the R300 alone, it’s not exactly clear if Timex is really bringing anything new to the table. Specs-wise, the R300 comes with continuous heart rate monitoring, downloadable workouts from “top athletes and coaches,” built-in GPS, sleep- and activity-tracking, and it’ll be able to receive push notifications. It’s also going to sport an always-on display and is water-resistant up to 30 meters. On paper, that’s standard fare for most fitness-oriented smartwatches. The R300 also has a transflective, colour touchscreen display—though woof, does it have some huge bezels.
When it comes to smartwatches, battery life is hugely important. Timex says the R300 will have an “extremely long” battery life, estimating 25 days in smartwatch mode and 20 hours of continuous GPS use. I asked Timex if “smartwatch mode” meant it displays the time only, as is a common battery-saving feature in other watches. A Timex spokesperson told me via email that isn’t the case. You should be able to text, call, receive notifications, and do 2-3 GPS workouts per week to get that 25-day battery life. (However, they did mention having optical heart rate monitoring on 24/7 would be more battery-intensive, which makes sense.) In any case, that’s impressive.
Timex is also competing on price: The R300 is also pretty dang affordable at $US120 ($183). That’s about $US30 ($46) cheaper than Fitbit’s Charge 3, which is probably Fitbit’s most comparable product to what Timex is offering here. That said, we’ll have to test the R300 to see how it holds up in terms of accuracy. The Timex Ironman GPS R300 is available today to order on Timex’s website and at select sports retailers.