Huawei has unveiled the Huawei Watch Ultimate—a premium watch with a new liquid metal casing, dive computer functionalities, and a reputed 14-day battery life—ahead of its official release date on 3 April 2023.
It certainly looks like it's going to earn its place in our best smartwatch list, where its main rival the Apple Watch Ultra currently holds top spot. The watch’s design mimics a real high-performance dive watch, with a big 1.5-inch AMOLED sapphire glass display capable of emitting up to 1,000 nits of brightness. This is ideal to be seen at night (unless you’re using the watch’s new Dark Night Mode, which allows you to see key workout and navigation information while protecting your eyes), or deep underwater.
It just so happens that it’s the watch’s underwater features that Huawei is championing hardest. The watch is reportedly capable of surviving depths of over 100 meters for up to 24 hours, and has passed specific diving equipment tests such as EN13319—a certification awarded to specialist depth gauges—and has been awarded an ISO 22810 water resistance standard, bringing it in line with the Apple Watch Ultra’s diving credentials. Diving Mode offers four different options to choose from: recreational scuba dive, technical scuba dive, free-dive and gauge.
In order to withstand the pressures under the water, the watch needs to be hard, and Huawei is delivering with a ‘liquid metal’ zirconium alloy case said to be 2.5 times harder than titanium and less prone to corrosion. The Watch has been redesigned to function easier with gloves on, using an ‘Ultimate Mode’ button alongside Huawei’s standard digital crown and function button.
The Ultimate Mode button can be programmed to access advanced features such as Dive Mode or the new Expedition Mode, which is a new adventuring mode you can switch on for overground treks. The Expedition Mode automatically switches on advanced dual-positioning GNSS satellite navigation, waypoints, and other features to stop you getting lost, alongside key health data such as blood oxygen levels which will be useful at high altitude.
Outside of specialist modes, it’s also packing the usual sports profiles, health data including round-the-clock SpO2 analysis, and the latest iteration of Huawei’s TruSleep sleep tracking algorithm.
The Huawei Watch Ultimate will be available in the UK and Europe, with pricing TBC. As yet, it is not due to be released in the US due to Huawei’s ongoing dispute with the US government.
Coming for the Apple Watch Ultra
The Huawei Watch Ultimate looks like a beast. We’ll be posting our first impressions and full review later on, but suffice to say it’s coming for the Apple Watch Ultra’s ‘best smart dive watch’ crown.
Likely pitched at a similar price point, it’s got diving functionalities and is designed to operate at extreme altitudes, just like the Ultra. It’s got the equivalent of the Ultra’s Action Button with the Ultimate Mode button. It’s even got a similar name.
However, the Huawei Watch Ultimate is able to dive deeper than the Ultra, although only the most enthusiastic divers will make full use of the dive mode features, and its battery is said to last far longer. We're keen to see what the expert divers make of this, as we did with the Apple Watch Ultra.
We’ll test the accuracy of the GPS and the smartwatch’s health metrics when our review unit arrives - against the Apple Watch Ultra, of course. However, there’s one area in which it differs vastly from the Ultra, and that’s in design. With the titanium strap that comes with the watch’s Voyage Blue color, it’s designed to mimic a premium analog dive watch, the sort of watch you might buy at a jewelry store rather than online.
It’s really a nice-looking piece of kit, especially with the analog-mimicking watch face, and further proof the trend of smartwatches borrowing design elements from analog watches will continue. It maintains Huawei’s distinctive two-button design language, even after adding a third, to make it recognizable for those familiar with the Huawei GT series. However, performance is key: if the Ultimate can’t measure up to its promises, the Apple Watch Ultra will leave it in the dust.
It's not the only new Huawei watch around though: check out our Huawei Watch Buds review to see what we thought of this weird and wonderful mix of gadgets.