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Lifewire / Jason Schneider
Stylish and professional
Super-long battery life
Reasonable price point
Limited smart functionality
Rough-feeling stock band
This is the wearable for the person who want a device that provides you with light notifications and doesn’t scream you’re wearing a smartwatch.
We purchased the Misfit Command so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The Misfit Command is a hybrid smartwatch that aims to give you the bare essentials of smartwatch functionality, without tipping anyone off to the fact that you’re wearing a smartwatch. Whether you are someone who wants some wrist-level notifications without a ton of distraction, or you’re someone who wants those notifications without sacrificing the classic look of a genuine wristwatch, the Command is an interesting option.
That said, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks, chief of which are the lack of fully connected functions that Wear OS and Apple Watches do well, such as heart rate monitoring, integration with messaging, and more. I spent some time with a gunmetal/walnut model and found that the look and feel of the device is a true standout feature, and at times made me forget that this was a smartwatch. Here’s how it all breaks down.
If you’re in the market for a hybrid smartwatch, chances are that this category is pretty high on your list of considerations, and I’m happy to report that this smartwatch looks sharp. I picked up a unit in what Misfit is calling “gunmetal” with a walnut band. This color combo is really professional and reminds me a lot of other classic watches at the low-to-mid price point. The 44mm casing is pretty large, so this is decidedly a “men’s” watch, though given the right band, it could really be for either gender.
The function of the watch looks exactly the same as an analog watch—two hands marking the time, and a small central dial at the bottom of the watch face that looks like an old-school second hand. This dial is actual your notification indicator, which I’ll get into a bit later, but because the dial is positioned like a secondhand it blends in nicely. Even the outer metal shell on this watch looks premium and professional.
The function of the watch looks exactly the same as an analog watch—two hands marking the time, and a small central dial at the bottom of the watch face that looks like an old-school second hand.
I’ve been spending a lot of time these past couple weeks testing out smartwatches, so I feel pretty well-equipped to compare setup processes. This is something that Apple really has down well for iPhone users, as is the case with most accessories and peripherals from the brand. Most other watches have some form of walkthrough process that exists.
What’s different for the Misfit Command is that there’s no display on the device itself, so the walkthrough must happen entirely on your phone. Misfit isn’t using a Google-based OS here, so there isn’t any simple way to connect a Google or Apple account. Instead, you download the Misfit app, connect the watch via Bluetooth, and then the app hands off all the permissions to your phone’s default.
I used mine with an iPhone, and once I enabled everything, it worked decently well, with two slight hiccups: first, the only notifications that were set up to come through the watch by default were text messages and date checking. If you want to add other notifications (such as alarms), you’ll need to set this up manually in the app. Additionally, the watch itself is not set up like a normal wound analog watch. Instead, it gets its time from your phone and just automatically snaps the hands to the right time. This is a nifty little trick, and it sort of surprised me when I saw the watch hands moving on their own the first time.
Unfortunately, the watch does require calibration. The time on my unit displayed about three minutes fast at first. This isn’t because it was reading the wrong time from my phone, but instead, it was because the watch wasn’t snapping the hands to the right place in relation to the watch face. Calibrating is an easy enough process; it involves spinning a dial on the app until the two hands line up with specified reference points. But, it was a shame that it wasn’t exactly perfect right out of the box.
This watch feels very substantial, which is to be expected for a 44mm casing. But at about a half-inch thick, the casing itself is a little thicker than what you’d expect from a standard Swiss-movement watch. This feels a little clunky right out of the gate, but as long as you don’t wear a lot of tight-cuffed shirts or jackets, this is mostly tenable. What’s a little more cumbersome is how heavy the watch is. This is likely due to the tech inside that connects to your smartphone—they have to put a processor in there after all. As such, it’s a good deal more complicated than a standard analog watch.
This watch feels very substantial, which is to be expected for a 44mm casing. But at about a half-inch thick, the casing itself is a little thicker than what you’d expect from a standard Swiss-movement watch.
The walnut band itself does feel a little bit like a cheaper leather, being rough on the edges and less high-quality than other leathers. In fact, Misfit calls the style a “sports band,” but it doesn’t employ the soft silicon-style material you’ll usually find in an athletic watchband. It’s somewhere between leather and rubber. I didn’t find this particularly comfortable out of the box, and even after a few days, it didn’t break in the same way leather would. It does feel durable and seems like it would be sweat resistant in the long term, but this watch really feels more like a casual daily watch, not a workout or sleep-tracking watch.
Now, because it’s a standard 44mm casing using the usual spring watchband system for connecting, you can swap bands with universal bands, so this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
With any smartwatch, there are two categories of customization: tailoring the functionality to your needs, and tailoring the look and feel to your style. The former, in this case, is understandably limited. Unlike other watches that let you install apps or customize dials and watch face inclusions, this wearable employs a physical, analog watch face. There are two buttons on the outside of the casing, the top one cycles through the notifications you’ve specified, and the bottom button can be assigned to a custom function.
It does feel durable and seems like it would be sweat resistant in the long term, but this watch really feels more like a casual daily watch, not a workout or sleep-tracking watch.
The notifications available to you are pretty set in stone: tap once, and the watch will display the date, twice and you’ll see alarms, three times it will display a second time zone, four times, and it will tell you whether you have active notifications on your phone, five times and it defaults to one specified smart function. That’s it. And even these notifications are limited in and of themselves, because they just tell you the presence of that info, not what a text message says or what your alarm is for. It’s a trade-off that we found reasonable given how analog this watch looks. It’s actually more like a simpler, modern-controlled analog watch, instead of a smartwatch.
At the outset, there are nine watch band color combos to choose from that range from this tan/steel model I tested, to all two black versions, options with metal link-style watch bands, and even some newer colors like a bright white-and-blue choice. But, once you’ve selected the watch style, there are obviously more bands you can purchase from Misfit. What we found really cool here is that the watch bands do not have proprietary means of attaching, so as long as you take note of the casing size, you’ll be able to use most standard watchbands here. This was great for me because I have a drawer full of watches I don’t wear and was able to absorb a few bands from that collection to give my watch a fresh feel every day.
This watch doesn’t have a full OS to speak of, so the performance conversation is going to be really short. Once set up, the watch works fairly seamlessly. Using the internal gyroscope/accelerometer, it does count your steps fairly accurately. And interacting with the watch using the on-board buttons works quickly too.
Because the watch has to employ strange analog dial representations of notifications that we, as humans, are used to receiving on a screen, there is a learning curve, but that isn’t entirely the watch’s fault.
I assigned my customizable button to be a remote shutter control for my iPhone’s camera, and even though there is a slight Bluetooth-based delay, it works well. The performance flaws I found had to do with the watch's inability to sync with the Misfit app very quickly. I’ll get more into the app in a later section, but the slight delay in syncing data was a bit of a letdown. Because the watch has to employ strange analog dial representations of notifications that we, as humans, are used to receiving on a screen, there is a learning curve, but that isn’t entirely the watch’s fault. Once you understand what the symbols mean, and how the watch displays info, it’s actually pretty seamless.
Much like a lot of the other points in this review, the battery life on this watch is much closer to an actual watch than it is to a smartwatch. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been a holdout on the smartwatch market for a while. I love what flagship wearables can do, but on some level, it’s just another thing you have to remember to charge every day.
I count it as a huge plus if a wearable has more than 1–2 days of battery life. This watch claims months of battery life, up to a year. This is amazing if you compare to wearables, and actually sub-par compared to the usual life of a modern watch battery. Though, because there are Bluetooth and smart capabilities here, we’ll give it a pass. Not having to worry about the battery of your watch is an amazing thing, and considering I only spent a week or two with the Command, I didn’t even scratch the surface of how long this battery lasts.
As mentioned, because this is a third-party device, with no allegiances to one particular phone OS over the other, all of your interaction with this watch lives in the Misfit app. This is a mixed bag because, on the one hand, it is really simple and really specific to this one watch, but on the other hand, there isn’t a whole lot you can do.
The app serves two basic functions: first, it tells you all your tracking data. This would be impressive if brands like Fitbit or Apple Health hadn’t taken such meaningful strides in recent years. As it stands, the device only tracks your steps, calories, and miles traversed, and some information bout your sleep. There are some interesting workout integrations, but not as robust as you’ll see on Fitbit. What’s particularly confusing about this display is that Misfit has tried to aggregate all your data into one activity score out of 1,000. So, rather than hitting a 10,000 step goal, you have to fill your dial based on an arbitrary score. This score is displayed in real-time on your watch face, so it is easy to check, but I didn’t love how intangible this felt.
The other function of the app is to customize how your notifications are passed through. I already covered integrating with your messages and alarms (the watch is basically just a buzzer on your wrist that tells you when something is happening on your phone), but the secondary button does give you some interesting options to allow the watch to be more useful. I have mine set as a remote shutter button, but you can also set it as a music remote, a presentation clicker, or a button to automatically put your watch into workout mode.
I’ll say it again: this watch looks really premium, it feels really premium, and its watch band customization options are nearly limitless. For a reasonable low-to-mid-tier analog watch, you’ll pay somewhere in the vicinity of $100–200. The Command goes for $150I most of the time, though at the time of this writing, several of their color schemes were on sale for $120. To me, on look and feel alone, this is worth it (provided you like the styles available). It’s just an added benefit that you can also access activity/sleep tracking and do some light notification integration with your phone. Misfit really has priced this watch right for the market.
Fitbit Versa/Versa 2: While Fitbit’s flagship watch is much more of a smartwatch, its limited integrations and lack of OS allegiance make it a similar choice if activity tracking is important to you.
Fossil HR Charter: Fossil’s latest hybrid combines a screen with analog hands to give you even more smartwatch functionality at a higher price point.
Apple Watch, Series 3 or 4: While the latest Apple Watch isn’t a fair comparison at its price point, you can get an older series for less, and that might just tip you in the favor of a more full-on smartwatch experience.
A modern take on a classic mechanical watch.
The Misfit Command is a beautiful example of technology enhancing an existing product, not revolutionizing it. Because your notification functionality is limited on the Misfit Command, and because there’s no display to speak of, this watch seems more aligned with traditional watch-lovers, not tech aficionados. It allows you to pull up quick date and time zone references at the push of a button—much faster than traditional analog watches—and gives you some light notification functionality. It is limited, and we’d like to see a better app that syncs more seamlessly, but as far as hybrid smartwatches, this is a really beautiful example.
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