The Nixon Mission is a capable beast of a smartwatch. Made to withstand the toughest water and snow conditions, it’s a watch that excels in the extreme but is let down by poor battery life and some missed feature opportunities.
Ski and snow features
Thousands of designs
Poor battery life
It’s just too chunky
No heart rate monitor, NFC
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The Nixon Mission is not for the fair-weather smartwatch wearer. It’s a beast of a device, built to withstand surf and snow and not just a rush hour commute.
It’s certainly not discrete; the weight of the thing will mean that you will forever remember it’s on your wrist.
Apologies for going all meta on you, but it’s on our wrist right now, getting in the way of typing, clunking down on the desk like a diving bell. It’s a watch that does not let you forget that you are wearing it.
And, while the black version we tested only stood out because of its size, there are thousands of color variants to choose from.
Nixon wants this watch to be noticed but does it really do enough to stand out? We’re unconvinced.
Nixon Mission price and release date
- Out now, available in the US, UK and Australia
- Price wise it’s £339/$349.95, around AU$599
The Nixon Mission has a price that isn’t for the faint hearted. If you fancy strapping this hefty device to your wrist, then you are looking at paying £339, $349.95, AU$599.
This puts it firmly into Apple Watch 3 territory. But what do you get for that price? Well, the packaging it comes in is decent - it comes with a big protective case and some nice flourishes such as a charger with a rope lead, which goes with the Mission’s outdoor style.
The watch itself is extremely well built, slathered in stainless steel which definitely doesn’t come cheap. And there are many variants to choose from. For instance, you can change the color of the case, the bezel, choose from 30 different rubber straps and five steel straps.
There’s 18 bits of artwork to choose from for the inside of the watch and different faces. In all, Nixon is boasting over 4,000 variants.
We’re going to just have to trust them on that one. The only variant that costs extra is the steel strap - choose this and you have to add £20/$20/AU$35 to the price. The steel strapped Nixon Mission is the version we reviewed so it pictured throughout this review.
If you fancy buying yourself another strap, the rubber versions cost £45/$45/AU$60 each.
- Built for snow and sea
- Sizable 48mm case
- Stainless steel bezel
The Nixon Mission is built for extremes. It’s 16mm thick for a start so you better have big sleeves if you want them to go over the thing. Its fascia is 48mm in diameter, made from a polycarbonate case, packs a stainless steel bezel (which takes things to 50mm) and a slab of Gorilla Glass to protect the Mission’s delicate computing innards.
And what innards they are. There’s built-in GPS for a start, which already puts it ahead of its nearest (in looks at least) rival, the Casio Android Wear watch.
A Snapdragon Wear 2100 processor makes an appearance - which hints at a decent battery life but that unfortunately doesn’t seem to be the case here - and then there’s the impressive ability to withstand 10ATM water pressure.
While this isn’t good enough to go diving, it does mean that if you fall off your surfboard wearing the thing, it’ll survive the water crash and then some. There’s also 4GB of internal storage for all your music and app needs, and 512MB of RAM - standard Android Wear 2.0 fare, then.
We reviewed the Nixon Mission with a stainless steel strap and boy did our wrists feel it, it certainly added to the weight of the thing. If you were to delve into the surf or snow, then you maybe better suited to one of the rubber straps which are also available in a multitude of colors.
On the right side there is one button embossed with the Nixon name - it’s chunky for a reason, as it can be pressed if you are wearing gloves, ski gloves to be precise.
On the left-hand side of the watch is a fiddly little lever that has to be shifted when you use the watch in water. This is because it is a protector for the microphone. Mics, to the annoyance of smartwatch manufacturers need to have holes burrowed into chassis to work. This is the case with the Nixon Mission, so if you want to surf with the watch you have to flick a lever and cover the mic up so as not to ruin it with the waves.
Given you won’t be wearing ski gloves while doing this, it’s not a thing you can do with gloves on. It almost took our nail off a few times, too, trying to adjust it so be careful.
Flip the watch over and you have the charging dots and a nice big back on which you can have a variety of artwork sketched. The charger that’s included slots nicely onto these charging dots, but we did have to make sure that it was charging a few times as a small nudge can take it away from the charge point. We would have preferred a nice click into place, instead of magnets.
- Fantastic 400x400-pixel screen
- Good size 1.39-inch AMOLED display
- No flat tire!
The AMOLED screen is a full 360 degrees, which is a lovely touch - meaning you don’t have to put up with the flat tire look. It is a good size, too, at 1.39-inches 400x400-pixels. That pixel cluster is one of the best around on a smartwatch, matching the likes of the Asus Zen Watch 3 and bettering the Huawei Watch 2. The bezel is raised, which protects the screen and helps with overall durability. Nixon has made the bezel out of surgical grade stainless steel.
This doesn’t mean you can remove an appendix with the thing but it does mean it’s built to sustain some major knocks and water splashes.
The screen isn’t perfect edge to edge, but there is a small black rim around things which isn’t noticeable when you have one of the many Nixon watch faces up - as a black background is favored most of the time - but you can see it when you start to drill into some of the Android Wear apps on offer. Like we say, it’s hardly noticeable - at first we thought it was the shadow of the raised bezel - but it is there.
The automatic brightness of the screen was decent enough for us but if you do want it brighter, then head to settings and turn things up to five. This will reduce the battery life, but it does give you a lovely bright, clear image.
Other screen options include the ability to change the size of the fonts and you can also toggle off the Always On Screen functionality.
If you do nothing with the watch, then the screen reverts back to a simple black-and-white watch interface with the Nixon logo. Move your wrist and it will go back to the screen you are on, or whichever watch face you have chosen.
Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.