Product review: Verbalise talking watches – talking the talk, looking the look

Product review: Verbalise talking watches – talking the talk, looking the look

Ian Macrae has been looking at and listening to a couple of new additions to the range of talking watches which aim to bring a certain style.

Talking watches have moved way beyond their original and most likely consumer group, namely people with impaired sight. Their presence on sites such as Amazon and in the catalogues of suppliers such as LifeMax show that they have a broader appeal among older people and those with other physical impairments or conditions.

So it’s good to see a blind entrepreneur doing his bit both to reclaim the talking watch and to broaden its appeal. Martin Begg has established Verbalize to improve the range of watches available and The Talking Watch Shop to sell them.

The problem with talking watches has always been not so much that they’re cheap – you can get one for under a tenner and there’s a good range between £10 and £50 – but that they often look it. Some of the voices have a cartoonish quality about them and some of them are so loud that the world and his wife are aware that you’re trying to discreetly check the time.

These are two of the problems which Martin Begg and his company have set out to address with a new range of radio-controlled talking watches. They aim to look stylish and they have quite normal-sounding English voices which speak at a pleasantly discreet volume.

The men’s is modelled on a Rol-X (geddit?) design and comes in black and silver or black and gold. It has a decorative edge to the bezel which also shows the 24-hour time around the face.

The women’s one is, to quote the company’s description agreed with Swarovski, “embellished with sparkling crystals by Swarovski” and comes in gold, rose gold and silver.

There is a choice of two voices and two time formats on both watches. The male voice gives time in the 24-hour clock and the female one gives 12-hour time announcements. Both have pretty neutral RP accents and are audible to me in environments of average ambient noise levels. You can also choose to have the watch announce the time on the hour.

I experience some difficulty in securing the clasp strap mechanism on my wrist and also found adjusting the size to fit my wrist a little awkward but I’m sure this is something which will become easier as the leather of the strap becomes softer.

Because these are radio-controlled, the time is set automatically by connecting to the atomic clock. Setting and changing other controls is extremely easy and well supported by the speech feedback. It would be useful, however if, as with some other talking watches, the time announcement only operated for some of the day, between 0800 and 2000 for instance. At present it’s necessary to turn it off overnight.

While they may well be beyond the pockets of some who would like them, these watches are definitely great additions to the range and choice of what is available. They also definitely have a certain style. Whether that style matches yours is something only you can decide.

Mens Rol-X GB gold and black.

Rol-X SB silver and black, come with clasp leather strap but can be fitted most other straps.

Ladies

Swv-855 Gold

Swf-887 Rose Gold

Swf-863 Silver

£149.99 all models

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