Google Pixel Watch bezel might be a deal-breaker for me if the leaks are true

Google Pixel Watch press image green closeup pre-launch
(Image credit: Google)

I'm excited for the Google Pixel Watch. Or at least I was until I saw a recently-leaked image that appears to show the lovely wearable with a sharp, colorful screen, surrounded by what could only be described as a massive, black bezel.

You might say that I should've recognized this sooner, especially, since Google pre-announced the WearOS-powered wearable back in May. Google showed us the Pixel Watch and I remember thinking that it looked lovely; a refreshing departure from the beefy significance of, say the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 and the smooth but rectangular looks of the Apple Watch 8.

More than any other wearable, the Google Pixel Watch looks like it was poured, not stamped into a shape. It has an elegance that reminded me of a classic analog watch.

Put more simply, I was excited about this smartwatch in a way I haven't been with previous wearable releases.

However, the leak – unconfirmed until we see this gadget in person within 24 hours at the October Pixel Launch Event – is that the screen is considerably smaller than we expected. I don't have the pixel count, though I expect it to be high. However, those shiny, colorful dots look like they're squeezed into a relatively small, circular, and active screen. Surrounding it is a lot of dead space.

It's been easy to miss this up to now. Some of Google's early Pixel Watch images show the curved watch face at an angle. This has the effect of making the display look as if it reaches further out, coming closer to the metal case.

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Building on history

If you think I'm nitpicking, I'm here to tell you I'm not.

To start with, smartwatches are supposed to reflect the rich history of the watch. I have drawers full of these analog devices. Their dials and complications radiate out to the gold and metal cases. There's no buffer between the face and little space between the hands and where the glass cover meets that circular metal frame.

When Apple launched its first Apple Watch, it also looked amazing when the smartwatch was off, but it soon became obvious that the active screen fell well short of where the Ion X Glass met the aluminum case. Over the generations, the screen grew in size and, on the Apple Watch 8, the interface is almost bezel-free.

Yet, here comes the Google Pixel Watch with what appears to be a belt-sized black bezel. It makes me think Google has been working on the smartwatch for years but also locked in key specs (including casing and display size) almost five years ago.

I could be wrong. Maybe the leak is a fake image or a bad angle. It might even be a watch face that purposely uses less-screen real estate. I doubt this.

My hope is that when I finally put the Google Pixel Watch on my wrist, I will be just as enamored by it as I was when I first saw press renders of it back in May. But if I touch the screen and it's small enough to be hidden by my thumb, I will be very disappointed and more than a little annoyed.

Want a full breakdown of everything we saw at Google's event (including the Pixel 7 as well)? Check out our Google event recap: Pixel 7, 7 Pro, Pixel Watch and all the big announcements.

The event gave me an opportunity to see the new Google Pixel Watch in person. You might be surprised by what I found.

Lance Ulanoff
US Editor in Chief

A 35-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, Fox News, Fox Business, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.