In September last year, the Apple Watch Ultra came with a special design, a new control button on the left and special functions for diving and expeditions. It took the Chinese manufacturer Huawei only half a year to implement amazingly similar ideas in its Watch Ultimate. It is aimed at diving enthusiasts and also has an expedition mode built in.

Michael Spehr

Editor in the "Technology and Engine" department.

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The Ultimate, like the Apple Watch Ultra, is large, it measures 48.5 × 48.5 × 13 millimeters, and it is made of a special material. The case is made of an amorphous zirconium-based alloy, it is stronger and harder than stainless steel and also superior to the titanium used by Apple. The watch is available either with a blue ceramic bezel and titanium bracelet (for 900 euros) or in the version we wear with a dark case and a rubber strap at a price of 750 euros.

Sapphire crystal protects the display. The display has a resolution of over 1.5 inches with 466 × 466 pixels, and the Amoled technology ensures a high-contrast, bright image, of course also in always-on mode. When it comes to the hardware alone, Huawei has made a great impact. The high-quality appearance is convincing, we wore the watch for a few weeks.

Harmony operating system in use

To get the Watch Ultimate up and running, the manufacturer's Health app for iOS or Android is required. It can also be used to make all device settings or select a dial. The latter are available in hundreds, free of charge and for a fee, the selection is downright overwhelming, but unfortunately many things also seem very cheap. The fact that the two most beautiful dials bear Huawei lettering is unworthy for this price range.

It is operated with the crown at the top right, it can be rotated and pressed, as well as with the button underneath. Harmony is used as the operating system, there is an app store for loading additional programs, the offer is meager. As with Google's Wear OS operating system, finger gestures are used to make settings, launch apps or take a look at various diagrams. The Watch Ultimate remains weak in the smartwatch functionality. For example, incoming messages can only be answered with pre-formulated text modules, and there is no model variant with E-SIM that would allow use without an accompanying smartphone. After all, you can use the watch as a Bluetooth hands-free when the phone is nearby, the acoustics are convincing.

The watch has built-in sensors for GPS, heart rate, oxygen saturation, acceleration, body temperature and a barometer. There is also an ECG function. The recording of sports was successful, although the heart rate was repeatedly measured far too low during our trainings, 80 instead of 120 beats per minute. In addition, the details of the sports tracking can only be viewed in the smartphone app and not in the web browser. Furthermore, there is no export function for detailed training data.

Disappointing expedition mode

The watch is submersible up to 100 meters and offers multiple dive modes, including recreational diving, technical diving and freediving. Dive data can be continuously monitored, and there are also various assistants, for example for apnea training or for calculating decompression.

The new expedition mode is a disappointment. Neither does the recording of waypoints at intervals currently work, nor is there a breadcrumb navigation back to marked points. You can set a marker manually, but even then the navigation fails. Completed expeditions are not listed in the app, which is now so overloaded and plastered with advertisements for paid offers that people don't like to use them. Overall, the hardware of the Watch Ultimate is particularly pleasing.

The software falls far short of what is possible. Athletes are better served with the Apple Watch or a Garmin watch. The similarly well-equipped Huawei Watch GT 3 Pro with a titanium case has a street price of around 270 euros, which indicates that the high-price strategy of the Chinese will not work in this segment.