(Pocket-lint) - Smartwatches have taken a few headlines over the past year, with devices like the Apple Watch offering a whole range of features for when you don't want to be using your phone.
The most important thing about the Casio Edifice is that it's a good looking watch. That's a great thing, because as soon as you have the Edifice on your wrist, you'll appreciate that it's a watch you want to wear.
This is where many of the existing smartwatches go wrong: although there's talk of premium luxury design, many fail to fulfil those aspirations. There are exceptions: we think the Apple Watch is interesting and refined in its design, and we think the Tag Heuer Connected hits the mark too.
But the Casio Edifice EQB-500 (which shares a design with many of the models in the Edifice range) hits that design mark well. It's a big watch, with a depth of around 13mm, a face that's around 43mm in diameter and a weight of approx. 175g. We love the blue colouration too: it's unique and distinctive. There definitely aren't enough blue watches around.
We like that, because it has substance. The weighty feel imparts a sense of quality: where some watches are very light, the Edifice isn't. The size of the face means you can fit plenty of information on it and the stainless steel case is liberally adorned with buttons that control the various functions on offer.
The face of the Edifice EQB-500 is a solar panel, harvesting energy from light to power its functions, so there's no need to change the battery or wind it up. The face offers a mock-chronograph look, fused with the chunkiness of a typical diver's watch design. There are big hour markers, a ticking second hand and illumination on the hour and minute hands.
The main crown screws down for protection against water ingress, with a 100m water resistance offered.
The metal link strap offers a folding clasp and fairly simple adjustment from the push pin links. If you are going to remove the links yourself (which is easy), make sure you don't lose the small locking sleeves that sit inside the links to stop the pins falling out. The links have arrows on the underside to indicate the direction you should push the pins out, so it's an easy DIY job.
Casio Edifice Watch app
Casio has long been associated with watches that do a lot, from the G Shock family through to Edifice. In the case of this model, it offers Bluetooth, which means it offers a range of connected features in conjunction with the smartphone app.
A long press of the Bluetooth button will see the second hand spin around to the Bluetooth logo on the watch, as it seeks the app to connect to. This generally describes how you identify all the functions on watch, because hands move to point to fairly subtle indicators on the face, so you know what you're looking at and others won't.
Connection to the app is fairly easy: it takes a little time to pair, but generally once it's done, it's easy to connect again.
Generally speaking, the app is there to manage all the watch's functions and so that you can see what's going on. It lets the watch sync to the time on the phone, although you can also manually power the hands back and forth directly on the watch if you need to.
One the aims here is to make it simple for those who travel. When you arrive in a new location and your phone changes timezone, the app will notify you to connect your watch so it can be automatically set to the local time.
There are world time functions, so you can allocate a zone for a second dial. If you have family or business contacts in a different location, or are away from home and want at-a-glance confirmation of what time it is, than that dial is for you.
The watch app will also let you set alarms, manage notifications from emails - although there's no display to see what they might be, and you have to register your email account in Casio's app, so it's not great. There is also a stopwatch and timer functions, with a range of race tracks included in the app. As Edifice is aligning itself with motor racing, this fits the theme.
The app, however, is possibly the worst aspect of the Casio Edifice. The user experience is poor, the app is badly laid out and when the watch isn't connected, the app permanently asks to be reconnected – on Android at least. That sees the app always in the notifications area of your phone, and you have to force stop to get rid of it.
In reality, it either needs to connect in the background on its own, or it needs to close until you open it again, rather than wait, as if tapping its foot, suggesting that your watch is the most important thing you phone is connected to.
Overall, the Casio Edifice EQB-500 is a nice watch. It looks good, it's clear in telling you the time and it feels great on the wrist. It's a cut above your average smartwatch in build and design, although it doesn't attempt to give you the functionality that an Android Wear or Apple Watch watch might through its Bluetooth connection.
The Casio Edifice EQB-500 is available now for around £300, if you want something that's watch first, connected device second.