Over the last month or so we've had the opportunity to review the DIESEL On Axial. If you're a fan of DIESEL's industrial-style fashion then you will most likely love what the company has done with it, and it's one of the brand's more recent Wear OS smartwatches launched in partnership with the Fossil Group.
It's uniquely designed to feature the familiar DIESEL aesthetic, complete with chunky side buttons and a thick watch case. The overall look pairs really well with most outfits that aren't business attire, so it's versatile in terms of style, and it's packed with features like most Wear OS watches these days.
Is it worth the money you'll spend on it? That depends. More or less, this is a watch I'd recommend people buy as long as they like the DIESEL brand. Otherwise it's a watch I'd skip entirely as there are other options out there that will function just as good if not better and cost less.
That said this is a decent watch and there's more than a few things to like about it. There's also some things that could be changed to make it better.
The DIESEL On Axial has, you guessed it, poor battery life
I've yet to come across a Wear OS watch with really good battery life. Some have been not bad, others have been pretty terrible. Like the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 that I reviewed last month.
The battery life on the DIESEL On Axial is very reminiscent of that. Though to its credit it is a little bit better. On the whole though it's still not great and doesn't last as long as other non-Wear OS watches that I've used. The Galaxy Watch Active 2 is still the front runner in this regard.
Battery life becomes all the more important when you need to utilize things like the Sunlight Boost feature. Which is designed to help give you a little extra brightness when in direct sunlight.
While it's great that this is a feature of the watch, it will definitely drain the battery more. And that was one of the things I found to be more common during my time with the watch.
I am still needing to place the watch on the charger every night or every other night when I use it for consecutive days. And that's just not an issue with other watches. This isn't going to be a problem for everyone.
It will be a problem for some though. Because sometimes you just forget to toss things on the charger. And if you rely on your smartwatch, the last thing you want is a dead (or soon to be dead) battery on it.
The one thing you can do to help counteract this a bit is use the extended battery mode. This will help the watch last a little longer, but it will also limit you to a few basic functions while everything else is disabled.
The weight of the DIESEL On Axial may be too much for some
This is a heavy watch. That was one of the first things I noticed after putting it on for the first time. So if you don't like weighty watches then you may not like this one.
It's not the heaviest watch I've ever worn, but it's nowhere near the lightest smartwatch I've worn either. The weight made it less comfortable to wear for a longer period of time and smartwatches are designed to be worn all day.
I unfortunately could not wear the On Axial for more than a few hours (three of four) without it starting to irritate my wrist. This isn't all due to the weight of the watch case. Part of it is the leather strap that comes with it.
But a big portion of it is the weight. If you move your wrists or hands around a lot, the watch is bound to move around a lot too. That is unless you tighten up the strap as much as you can. But if you do that then the whole thing just becomes constricting and even less comfortable.
If this is something you can get past, then it won't be an issue for you. If however you like or want to wear the watch all day without it it feeling like it's weighing down your wrist, you may want to consider another device. At the very least, you should try it before you buy it.
Taking off the watch felt like a chore
One thing that was a major turn off is how much harder it was to take off this watch than others.
Taking off the DIESEL On Axial felt like a chore every time I put it on during my review. It wasn't so hard that it was impossible. But I did spend more time fumbling with the strap trying to unlatch it than any other watch I've used in quite some time.
Now, since the straps are swappable this is something you could probably fix by just using a different strap. And because of that this isn't a huge issue. If you are going to pick up this watch though and you like this particular color, I'd highly suggest getting an additional strap of either different material or a different leather strap from a different brand.
This might work better than the one that comes with the watch in the box. Aside from that the leather itself feels well-made. So I was never worried about any of the stitching coming loose or the strap falling apart in any way.
High-quality design that feels very well-made
If there's one thing DIESEL does well, it's design stylish apparel. It also makes high-quality products which is part of the reason some of the stuff it sells is so expensive. Though that's not the only reason.
Of course this watch isn't entirely made by DIESEL and it's likely that Fossil manufactured the watch while DIESEL simply designed it. Either way, the watch looks great and it feels very well-made.
Some Wear OS smartwatches have just felt a little bit tacky and like they might not hold up very well over time. And that isn't the case with the On Axial. Perhaps part of it's the industrial design and when I think of industrial stuff I usually think of things are are stronger and hold up more against wear and tear.
Overall the thing I probably like the most about this watch is the design. I dig it, and others definitely will too. It won't be for everyone, though. As some prefer a more sleek look with cleaner lines and less obvious details.
But it's the attention to detail that is one of the best things about it. From the rivet-looking imprints in the top gold ring to the cross-hatch style design around the side of the case, DIESEL applied its discerning eye to the end result of this look.
As I stated above it's a design that's bold and a style that is easy to pair with all sorts of outfits. The design even carries over to some of the exclusive watch faces you can apply which are already built into the watch. The end result is a stunning piece.
The crown button feels like it will be underappreciated
The crown button is one of those minor details that many people are sure to overlook. During the review this is probably a feature of the DIESEL On Axial that I used the most.
The one on the DIESEL On Axial is pretty good and while it doesn't really function any different from the one on the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3, or similar watches, it still feels like it functions better.
By comparison, the one on the Emporio Armani Smartwatch 3 is a little harder to use because of how short it is. And that's a shame because twisting the crown button to scroll up and down in menus and notifications and such is a real treat of a feature.
With the On Axial, the crown button protrudes just a little bit more and it's that tiny bit of extra space you have to grab onto with your fingers that makes it easier to interact with.
It really is a wonderful design that lends itself well to the function that Google implemented. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's the perfect length or anything like that, the button sticks out just enough to be easy to grab quickly.
As I stated this is a minor feature and design element. But it's also one that has immense value that deserves some attention. One that other watch brands making Wear OS watches should pay attention to. Because DIESEL hit the nail on the head here.
Utilize the different modes. They're excellent
One of my favorite things about this watch are the modes. There are three that are available and you can access them by pressing the top button on the right side of the watch.
The modes include Weather Mode, Activity Mode, and Do Not Disturb Mode, and all have a unique purpose and a unique element that they add to the watch home screen.
The Weather Mode will essentially take whatever the weather is like wherever you are locally, and it applies a neat little graphic to the screen to evoke that. If it's sunny, you'll see what looks like the glare of the sun in certain spots. But if it's raining you'll see water droplets on the display. Lightning for lightning, and snow for snow. Etc.
It's obviously not a functional thing that impacts how the watch works really, but it's a cool touch and another nod to the attention to detail.
The Activity Mode meanwhile is meant to help give you a visual cue to get up and move around. For example if you sit or don't move for too long, the screen will get a dusty look to it that you will need to brush off by moving.
Lastly there's the Do Not Disturb Mode. This is, well… a do not disturb mode. It's there if you need or want to block notifications. The funny thing is that the modes is a feature that was never really talked about during the announcement of the watch last Fall. DIESEL doesn't mention it on its website either.
So unless you fiddle with the buttons and find it it could easily go overlooked. And it shouldn't because it's great.
Decent speaker, loud enough for use with Google Assistant
Just like with any other smartwatch the speaker on the DIESEL On Axial is not going to win any awards for musical sound clarity. It does however get the job done for use with Google Assistant.
It's decent enough to hear Google's responses as long as you're not in too noisy of a place. Outside with traffic whizzing by on runs or walks tends to make it harder to hear.
But in crowded shopping areas I seemed to have less of an issue with making out what Google was saying. If you use Google Assistant from your watch often enough, or you would plan to, then you shouldn't be disappointed with the speaker on the On Axial.
Overall there are no complaints with it, and it worked ok for voice calls too. Though I didn't use this a whole lot just because I prefer my conversations to be more private.
Is this is a watch you should purchase?
In short, yes, if you like the DIESEL brand and you enjoy a more bold style and design. This is a really stylish watch and it goes well with plenty of outfits.
It does have its issues with the battery life and weight. So if you don't mind tossing it on the charger just about every day after using it, and the heavier watches don't bother you, then again it's probably a good fit.
Functionally, it's solid and it does have some cool features. So there are definitely reasons to spend your money here over a different watch. However, it isn't cheap. It normally retails for $350.
And if I'm being completely honest there are better options. It just depends on your taste and needs in a device like this. If you prefer more of a sporty smartwatch, then this isn't the watch for you. Even if you tossed on a sporty strap, the watch case itself just wouldn't go well with it.
You can also grab other watches that cost up to $150 less. Even if you absolutely want to stick with Wear OS there are other less expensive options too. The DIESEL On Axial is a well-rounded Wear OS smartwatch even with its flaws.
And just may be the perfect option for those who enjoy fashion and various fashion brands.