Technology design moves so fast that it’s easy to forget, when Motorola unveiled its Moto 360 smartwatch, it did the unthinkable: transforming a rectangular LCD screen into a rounded piece of jewelry. To emphasize this engineering feat–one that’s notably absent even in Apple’s own watch–it opted for a leather, NATO-style band, weaving the band through the watch face to create the look of something you’d buy at the MoMA store rather than clunky geekwear.
But the new Moto 360 has experienced a relatively significant redesign. While the thickness remains relatively unchanged, its perfect circle of a case has been fitted with lugs (what you may know better as those protruding hooks that allow you to connect new bands).
Once the most watch-like of all the LCD smartwatches out there, the Moto 360 now resembles a regular watch more than ever. And it also acts more like a regular watch: now you can buy any standard, two-piece watch band and use it on your 360.
“We started with a circle–an icon–but at a certain point in design, if you’re really going to do something in the spirit of building something truly functional, you have to make design decisions, and one of the design decisions we made was, it’s going to be better for the consumer to incorporate a lug design,” says Motorola’s SVP of Consumer Experience Design, Jim Wicks. “Because it gave you more battery life without compromising the size, it gave you more flexibility to express yourself. And it fit better.”
The band–formerly looped through the body–meant that the 360 gave up space that would otherwise be reserved for the battery. (And if there was one major complaint about the Moto 360 at launch, it was the abbreviated battery life.) As a result, the new 360 features a 20% larger battery that promises to run a day to a day and a half, depending on your settings.
The option to swap out your own band–an emerging trend in the smartwatch space–strongly supports Motorola’s underlying thesis of individualization–that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all design as wearables become more and more of a fashion statement. As Wicks would put it to me later, “We can set it all up as a beautiful watch, but if it’s important for you to have something that represents you better than we can, then [customize it.]”
But maybe most of all, sliding the various test models onto my wrist alongside the old 360, I realized he was right: The lugs allowed the new 360 to stabilize on my wrist. They really were more comfortable. And as a result, it wasn’t just the first smartwatch I wore that looked like I was wearing a regular watch, it was the first smartwatch I wore that felt like I was wearing a regular watch.
“The round design is a better, more comfortable design,” Wicks says. “That’s why we [made it in the first place]–not just the history, it’s more comfortable than a square.”