Diesel On Axial hands-on review: An undeniably wild and stunning smartwatch

Diesel On Axial hands-on review: An undeniably wild and stunning smartwatch

“Wild, unique, and utterly uncompromising, the Diesel On Axial smartwatch has much-needed new tech to match the exciting style”

  • Exciting, unique style
  • A varied range of colors and straps
  • More RAM and improved processor
  • Style won’t be to everyone’s taste
  • Pricey for a Wear OS watch

If you like watches, trying one on is like trying on a pair of shoes. Some simply feel right at the point you tighten the strap on your wrist, and angle it towards your face to take in the look. If it’s too big or small, or the style looks odd with your choice of outfit, it’s quickly discarded. For me, the Diesel On Axial was like putting on a pair of the finest leather brogues, the best Nike Air Max 90s, or the comfiest slipper you can find.

It felt like it belonged on my wrist, and I didn’t want to take it off.

Masculine, wild, and wonderful

I admit I have this relationship with many Diesel watches. They have a personality and a design cohesiveness that’s missing from other fashion brand’s wristwear, and the smartwatches have also displayed it too.

Unlike other fashion brands from The Fossil Group, including Michael Kors and Emporio Armani, Diesel smartwatches are unmistakably Diesel. You won’t look at it and wonder if it’s a Hugo Boss watch or a G-Star. It’s a Diesel, obviously.

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What do I mean? First, take a look at the body and the knurled side panels that are seemingly sandwiched between the top and bottom sections of the metal casing. This comes straight from its traditional watches and has been seen on the On Full Guard 2.5 too. It’s recognizable.

The straps, from the riveted leather version to the metal link version that looks tough enough to pull a trailer, are similarly iconic. There’s a sense of masculinity to the design you simply don’t see on other smartwatches; a wildness that generates some emotion when you wear it.

Then there’s the tactility. Look at those side buttons and the heavy-engineering look of the bezel itself. Run the tip of your finger over these, and you get to experience the watch in a new and interesting way. It’s not smooth or beveled. It’s different, and that’s what makes it special.

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Diesel has experimented with a new color scheme too: bronze. Real bronze has been seen on several high-end mechanical watches recently — the fabulous Oris Carl Brashear Chronograph being a good example — but on the Diesel, it’s less premium and more steampunk, which suits the watch’s design perfectly.

How about the size? With all this talk of wild masculinity, it’s clear the On Axial embraces its 44mm body size, and the imposing bezel gives a strong visual on the wrist. Diesel watches aren’t for wallflowers. You have to own it, and while it edges towards men, I’m certain there will be women who will also love the uncompromising style. Just be aware it’ll dominate your wrist, whatever its size. The 12mm thickness isn’t overpowering though, and it’s not heavy either.

More power

For the On Axial, Diesel has designed a new watch face called the Information Tunnel, which looks like you’re staring into the mind of someone tripping on LSD. Shapes and lines in all different colors generate the effect of falling down a never-ending tunnel, while the time and other pieces of information populate the display.

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It looks great, and ran smoothly during my short time with the watch. This is important to note, as my experience with the Diesel On Full Guard 2.5’s performance was not great.

The good news here is the On Axial uses Fossil’s 5th generation platform, which means it has the Snapdragon 3100 processor and crucially, 1GB of RAM. This is needed to make the flashy animations run smoothly, something the old platform and 512MB of RAM couldn’t do on the On Full Guard 2.5.

The latest platform also brings battery life improvements, a speaker, and greater iOS support for calls.

Price and availability

Unique, uncompromising, wild, and utterly brilliant looking, the Diesel On Axial is the most visually exciting fashion smartwatch I’ve seen in ages. I can’t wait to put the bronze model back on.

It comes out in October and will cost $350.