A minimal smartwatch that actually helps you unplug from phone notifications!

Imagine this. You are working at your desk, when in a brief lull of productivity, you wonder, What time is it? You press a button on your phone – just to check the time, you swear – and you notice a few notifications as well: a breaking news headline, a text from a friend, a new follower on Instagram, etc. Almost reflexively, you unlock your phone. Just five minutes, you tell yourself. I’ll skim through these alerts and get back to work. Of course, in my case, I blink, and those five minutes have turned into twenty.

Scenario two: you are out for a relaxing, socially-distant hike. The fresh air and natural sunlight are exactly what you need at this moment – a break from your tech-heavy life. What time is it? You wonder. You click your lock screen – just to check, you swear – but then curiosity takes over. This hiking trail is too quiet – boring, to be honest. You want a brief distraction from this peaceful environment…which is how you end up online.

Our attachment to our phones is a difficult one to break. Even though I can limit my screentime by restricting data usage on certain apps, blocking notifications, or setting my phone to Do Not Disturb, these self-imposed measures don’t always work. They don’t stop me from opening social media or playing Candy Crush.

A few weeks ago, I covered a wifi-router concept that gave users the option to disconnect from the internet. In a similar vein, the TIME OFF! watch gives you the ability to mute your smartphone notifications. How does it work? Well, the process is pretty straight-forward. Similar to many smartwatches and Fitbits, the TIME OFF! has a companion app where you can control all the settings. With the app, you can choose which apps and alarms to mute during your “time off” mode. Once you save those settings, you can, at any point, silence those alerts by pressing the red button on your TIME OFF! watch. You don’t even have to pick up your phone.

My favorite aspect of the watch is its simple design. Yanko has featured plenty of minimalistic concepts, but this one is the most minimal watch that I’ve seen. The watch consists of a solid-colored band and a face with a small LED sliver that displays the time. The screen doesn’t even fill the entire watch surface! I love this design choice because it reinforces the product’s mission: to eliminate distractions. The TIME OFF! wants you to be present in your environment, to forget about your email inbox, the news, and the passage of time.

The product uses a textile strap that is also quite versatile. You can wear the TIME OFF! as a watch – and switch out the band for a more fashionable one – but you can also tie it on your belt loop or a bag strap. It’s a simple idea, but one that also contributes to the product’s mission: to remove all the little things that may tempt you to check your phone. Don’t worry about the time, this watch seems to say. It’ll still be here, on your bag if you need it, but you should enjoy this break from the digital world.

Designer: Rudolph Schelling Webermann