Modern smartwatches can sell for hundreds of dollars and run proprietary software or for as little as $25 while running open source code.

Watchy is closer to that latter category. It’s a smartwatch with a paper-like monochrome display and open source hardware and software.

With a list price of $50, it’s an affordable option for folks looking for basic smartwatch functionality and a hackable design. The project first hit our radar nearly a year ago, but Watchy recently went on sale at Tindie recently.

Update: Watchy is up for pre-order from Crowd Supply for $50 and up, and it’s expected to begin shipping at the end of May, 2021.

Unfortunately it’s out of stock at the moment, so you’ll have to join a waitlist if you want to get your hands (or wrist) on one. But you may also be able to build your own.

Source code, documentation, and design files are all available at the Watchy website, so if you have the hardware and technical know-how, you may be able to make your own watch. Odds are you’ll end up spending more than $50 though.

If you do manage to pick up a Watchy kit from Tindie, you’ll get a kit that includes:

The watch supports WiFi and Bluetooth low energy and has a 3-axis accelerometer. It can be paired with a smartphone to display notifications or act as a music playback controllers, among other things. It can also connect to the internet directly for weather, news, or traffic updates, among other things.

Users can also write their own code. Watchy uses an ESP32 microcontroller and can be programmed using Arduino, Micropython, ESP-IDF, or Zephyr-RTOS.

If you’re not a coder though, and just want to download watch faces and other apps, it looks like that might be an option soon as well.

This article was originally published January 15, 2021 and last updated February 2, 2021. 

via Gizmodo and NotebookCheck

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  1. I’m watching this, because I still haven’t found a suitable replacement for the old Pebble smartwatches.

    I don’t want fitness tracking, I don’t want sleep monitoring, I don’t want step counting. All I want is call, text, and email notifications and days of battery life. There just aren’t any options for that right now.

    1. Pebble is still a thing. Sure, no first party support, but other than that I see no reason to take off my PTS.

    1. It’s a watch how fast do you-
      …Actually that’s a valid point if you want stopwatch functionality.
      But Mirasol is pretty much a trademark for an LCD over a reflective film. And you can get a watch with that now. Even smartwatches, although I’m not sure if I could recommend any of them.

  2. It’s a really neat idea, and congrats to the designer for coming up with such a simple construction for a fun project.

    Having said that, I’m not going put a Lithium battery against my wrist, with only a thin piece of fabric watch-strap between my wrist and battery. If that thing caught fire, you’d lose your hand.

    I’ve been thinking of designing a similar PCB, but my thought was to fit it into a off-the-shelf watch housing from Aliexpress/Alibaba.

  3. This is a cool project but it has three glaring design errors.

    1) the display cable goes through the watch strap loop, where it will get jostled and abraded.

    2) the strap loops are the PCB. PCBs are brittle. Hello.

    3) the strap loops are cut straight instead of slightly convex, which puts equal strain across the side of the loop. The middle of the loop is where it’s the weakest and will apply the most leverage against the corners, and the most shear against the loop itself. Cutting it convex would reduce the force on the middle of the loop.

    The loop design is dumb with dumbsauce on top.

    Recommend avoiding this if you were planning on actually wearing it daily. If you just want it for a few Steampunk events, it’s great though. 🙂

    1. I agree with the criticism about the ribbon that goes through the strap loop.

      But I don’t agree about PCBs being too brittle. A standard 1.57mm thick FR4 board is pretty strong. I’m willing to bet the amount of force it takes to break that loop is much higher than the amount of force it would take to damage standard watch-strap hardware.

      I occasionally make the entire housings of my electronics projects out of PCB material (FR4), and it’s damn strong stuff. I just design my PCB with extra cuts of blank PCB material to use to assemble my project casing.

  4. This would have been really cool when I was younger. But now, my old eyes would have difficulty reading a 200×200 pixel screen.

    1. According to the Watchy website: “[w]ith only time keeping, Watchy should have a battery life of 5-7 days, while with fetching data over WiFi, it should last between 2-3 days. “