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Google Pixel Watch leak teases a classic timepiece feature

Skagen Falster 3
The Google Pixel Watch could have a crown like the Skagen Falster 3 (pictured). (Image credit: TechRadar)

A new Google Pixel Watch leak shows a purported glimpse of the rumored smartwatch, suggesting it’s getting a feature we usually see on traditional timepieces: a physical crown.

The peek came in a tweet courtesy of leaker Jon Prosser, who teased it a day before on Twitter claiming images (plural) would be available of the ‘upcoming Pixel Watch (codenamed: rohan).’ The first image, below, shows an enticing slice of the purported watch face, with the dial just visible behind it.

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There’s not much else to glean in the image, though the digital watch face looks a lot like what you’d see on a traditional timepiece’s radial analog face. This would fit a physical crown, which digital smartwatches tend to eschew in favor of touch controls. 

(Sidenote: given Google's recent mobile codenames haven't been book nerdy, with the Google Pixel 4 and 4a codenamed 'coral' and 'flame,' it's curious to see the very obvious nod to Lord of the Rings' horse-loving realm, Rohan, used here.)

Instead, crowns are usually seen on hybrid smartwatches that seek to blend the timeless class of analog hour/minute/second hands with digital screens behind them, like the Misfit Phase or Withings Move ECG. Other smartwatches have used novel alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3’s physical rotating dial or the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2’s digital touch rotating dial, though digital wearables leaning on classy touches like the Montblanc Summit 2 have featured physical crowns.

Google Pixel Watch: long time, no rumor

We haven’t heard much about the Google Pixel Watch in awhile. While Google’s acquisition of Fitbit in late 2019 sparked speculation that a first-party smartwatch could follow, the last rumor appeared in May 2020. Curiously, the latter is for a patent suggesting an optical sensor in a Google smartwatch could recognize finger, wrist, and/or arm gestures – which seems counter to a control style using a physical crown.

It’s not too surprising that we haven’t of Google’s watch considering how much the Covid pandemic delayed the release of its Google Pixel 4a phone. While we haven’t heard about why we, well, haven’t heard anything of the Pixel Watch, this new leak does suggest the wearable has been in development. Given the just-announced Google IO 2021 is happening in May, we could see it launch there alongside other products like the Google Pixel 5a – though neither has been officially confirmed yet.