Timex Ironman smartwatch skips smartphone connection

The Ironman One GPS+ comes with 3G cellular service

Watchmaker the Timex Group on Wednesday announced its entry into the smartwatch market with a fitness-oriented model that has its own mobile network connection.

Smartwatches have relied on links to smartphones for connectivity, but the untethered Ironman One GPS+ allows users to leave their phones at home while enjoying online access on the go.

The model is being marketed at running enthusiasts, but it's also a music and messaging tool. It comes with a year of mobile data connectivity with AT&T in the U.S., according to the Timex website.

That could sway fitness buffs who want connectivity and the ability to upload workout data to services such as Strava or RunKeeper without the extra weight of a smartphone.

The watch's other features include a 1.5-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 288 by 192 pixels that automatically becomes brighter in direct sunlight.

There's also a GPS activity tracker for sports such as jogging, 4 GB of storage for up to 1,000 songs and a built-in messaging app with an SOS function that can send a preset message to predefined contacts in an emergency.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery will keep the watch running on standby for 72 hours, run GPS and cellular service for eight hours, or GPS, cellular and the music player for just four hours.

The watch is 50 millimeters wide and 15.7mm thick, weighs 71 grams, and is water-resistant to 50 meters.

Timex is offering the GPS One+ for US$399, or $450 including a Bluetooth heart rate monitor. The watch is set for release in the U.S. market in November.

The company's website gave no indication of how the phone is charged, nor which OS or apps it will run. Timex did not immediately reply to a request for more information.

Mass-market watchmakers like Timex have generally avoided the smartwatch craze, even those known for high-tech timepieces such as Casio and Seiko. Luxury brands haven't embraced the concept either.

The smartwatch market, however, is expected to reach $2.5 billion this year, according to Zurich-based research firm Smartwatch Group.

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