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Meet the Ironman One GPS+: Timex's quasi-smartwatch doesn't need your phone

Smartwatches are all the rage with technology companies, but now a traditional watchmaker wants a piece of the action. Timex just announced a new sports-focused watch with smart functions created in partnership with Qualcomm and AT&T. It’s slated for release this fall—and unlike pure smartwatches, it doesn’t need to be tethered to your phone to be functional.

As you might guess from AT&T’s involvement, the upcoming Timex device, called the Ironman One GPS+, will come loaded with 3G cellular connectivity. A year of wireless service is included in the watch’s $400 price point.

As with other Ironman watches, the One GPS+ is targeted at fitness buffs, with features such as GPS workout tracking for runs and a heart-rate monitor feature that requires an accessory that will set you back another $40, according to USA Today. It’s also water-resistant up to 164 feet, perhaps giving it some appeal to water sports enthusiasts such as surfers, snorkelers, and swimmers.

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Timex’s One GPS+ smartwatch.

But don’t expect to be receiving any text messages while you’re getting barreled at Huntington Beach. The cellular connectivity on the One GPS+ is used for pretty basic stuff, such as sending location data, uploading workout summaries to social networks, and trading email messages. The watch also includes 4GB of onboard storage for packing tunes while you’re on the go, with support for wireless headphones via Bluetooth. 

Actually using the One GPS+’s connectivity will put a big hurt on the phone’s endurance, though: The rechargeable lithium-ion battery will keep the watch running on standby for 72 hours. But GPS and cellular service is rated for just eight hours, and using the GPS, cellular service, and the music player drops use to four hours.

While Timex hasn’t released operating system details, the One GPS+ doesn’t appear to pair with your smartphone to receive notifications on your wrist. On the flip side, however, Timex’s watch also doesn’t need to connect with a phone to work, unlike the vast majority of smartwatches. It may seem like a drawback to techies, but it allows outdoor aficionados to use the watch even in situations where carrying a phone around simply isn’t practical.

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The device itself is chunky even by smartwatch standards, measuring 1.9-by-0.61-inches and weighing 0.15 lbs. It’s equipped with Qualcomm’s low-power Mirasol display—as we saw with Qualcomm’s Toq smartwatches—with a 288-by-192 resolution on a 1.5-inch screen. The screen automatically brightens in the sunlight.

Timex told USA Today that the One GPS+ will be the first of many smartwatches coming from Timex in the future. Perhaps Timex will eventually try its hand at the Android Wear platform to deliver a “real” smartwatch. But for now, the company clearly wants to take a different path. Look for it to hit store shelves in the U.S. in November.

Additional reporting by Tim Hornyak of IDG News Service

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