Quirky Honor Watch ES Puts a Fitness Coach on Your Wrist


Move past the unusual rectangular shape and the Honor Watch ES has an equally unusual party trick. Rather than just track your workouts, it has a coaching feature where a tiny, animated fitness coach takes you through a selection of short exercise sessions, showing you exactly what to do and how long to do it. It’s like being at the gym with a trainer — without having to listen to “motivational” commentary when you’re sweating away on the 19th rep.

Sounds great when we live in a time when gyms are closed, or you have no wish to visit one, right? Don’t get carried away, Honor’s Workout Course feature is really for people who’ve never visited a gym at all.

I’ve worn the quirky Honor Watch ES for a week. Here’s what it’s like.

Design

Before getting into the workouts, what about the look? There’s no getting away from the quirky rectangular case and screen, which make it look like an elongated Apple Watch. However, when you put the Watch ES on, the shape makes much more sense. The taller-not-wider case sits further back on your wrist, so it never interferes with movement, and coupled with the very low weight and thin 10.7mm profile, the Watch ES quickly becomes unnoticeable.

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There’s a single button on the side that performs several functions, including activating the menu, returning to the watch face, and prompting options during workouts. The AMOLED screen itself measures 1.64-inches and has a high-enough resolution that detail and text are sharp. I found the touch responsiveness to be fast and accurate, and in some instances, the long case made interaction feel easier.

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The curved glass over the screen catches the light nicely, you can set an always-on screen to permanently show the time, and the tiny lugs give it a pleasing minimalist look. It’s not a premium wearable, though. The case is made from plastic, and the simple band is silicone with a plastic buckle. There is plenty of room for adjustment, but I’m not sure how suitable it will be for small wrists. With the body being longer than a 44mm Apple Watch, it’s liable to extend over the edge of small wrists. I’d recommend either trying it on first, or measuring it against a watch you already own to get an idea of the dimensions.

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I really wasn’t sure about the design when I first saw the Watch ES in pictures. It reminded me of Cartier and Jaeger dress watches for women, which didn’t seem like the right direction for a fitness wearable. However, in person, it looks great and moves beyond the visual boredom of basic fitness trackers in an interesting way.

Workout plans

The Workout Courses are the Watch ES’s party piece. There are 12 options ranging from ab toning and leg workouts to a full body stretch routine. What makes them special is the visual instructions presented on the screen that allow you to follow along on your wrist rather than guess or watch a YouTube video. It’s certainly aimed at beginners, and I can’t see experienced gym-goers or workout fiends finding anything new in the instructional courses.

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Let’s take the Re-energise and the Exercise at Work courses as our example. The first is a basic three-minute warm-up, and the second is a more intensive cardio-based six-minute plan where you do everything from jumping jacks to lunges. The screen shows an animated example of the exercises, a timer, a rep counter, and your heart rate. There is a few-second break between each exercise

It definitely gets your heart rate up, and because the exercises are basic, the little animations are sufficient to quickly understand positioning. However, there’s nothing here that will be unfamiliar to anyone who has exercised in the past, and therefore I feel there’s limited reason to return to the plans after trying them out once or twice. It’s definitely well-produced, from the clear animations to the haptics that tell you when the exercise is ending, as you often can’t see the watch face mid-movement.

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Otherwise, the workout-tracking system is the same as you’ll find on the Honor Watch GS Pro, the MagicWatch 2, and the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro. This means 95 different workout-tracking plans, a heart rate sensor, and TruSleep sleep monitoring. The Watch ES also has an Sp02 blood oxygen measurement, which returned a wide variety of results that me question its accuracy, as well as a stress meter.

I like the Watch ES’s ease of use — a few taps and you’re tracking a workout — and the data presented is plentiful on the watch’s screen and in the Huawei Health apo. The Workout Courses are well-presented, but I’m not sure who will really get much use from them.

Software and battery

It’s Honor and Huawei’s own software on the Watch ES, and it’s generally very good. Buttons are large and obvious, responsiveness is good, and you can manage music playback from your phone, see weather reports, and swipe through multiple information cards from the home screen. There are various watch faces to choose from, and a few always-on options too.

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I encountered some problems with activity tracking accuracy, though. Several software updates have improved it, but it’s still not quite right. For example, no matter what I’m doing or for how long, the heart rate sensor logs everything under its “Extreme” level of activity. Since beginning my time with the Watch ES, it says I’ve spent no minutes warming up, burning fat, or in the aerobic zone, but I have managed to rack up 422 minutes with my heart rate elevated to an extreme level. Clearly, something is amiss.

The Watch ES uses the Huawei Health app to connect to your phone, and it operates with both Android and iOS. Setup is easy but does require a Huawei account, and the app reliably updated the Watch ES several times. I used the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro with the Watch ES, and did find the app would need restarting to maintain the connection for notifications, despite digging into the phone’s permission system to avoid this. This will vary depending on what phone you use.

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Honor says the battery will last for 10 days before it needs a recharge, assuming the always-on screen isn’t active. But I find this  to be an essential feature. With the always-on screen active, a few workouts tracked, the heart rate sensor active, and stress levels being tracked automatically, the battery has lasted for about seven days. Expect this to diminish more if you use the GPS.

Price and availability

The Honor Watch ES is available to buy in the U.K. now through Honor’s online store. It currently costs 89 British pounds, or about $118 U.S. You can find the Honor Watch ES in the U.S. on Amazon, where it’s priced at $129, and through other import services.

Conclusion

I like the Honor Watch ES. I didn’t think I would at first, but it has turned out to be a comfortable, mostly reliable wearable that’s reasonably priced and works very well for fitness, activity, and sleep tracking. However, this description applies to many other wearables, and the Watch ES struggles with reasons to buy it outside of the quirky shape. The Workout Courses are fine for a total beginner, but probably won’t hold anyone’s interest for long. Find it for a low price, and you’ll be happy, though.

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