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Fossil’s new hybrid smartwatches combine physical watch hands with a circular low-power, always-on display. The $195 (£189) Fossil HR has a monochromatic display, which is capable of showing the kind of information you’d typically expect to see on a smartwatch — including activity tracking, weather information, and app notifications — all while being power-efficient enough that the watch offers a battery life of around two weeks.
Back when news of these smartwatches leaked in September, there was speculation that they used the secret smartwatch tech that Google paid Fossil $40 million for at the beginning of the year. However, Fossil said these watches are unrelated to that deal. “There is no relation between the IP Fossil sold to Google in the beginning of the year and the launch of the Fossil Hybrid HR,” a spokesperson for Fossil told The Verge in an email.
Fossil has a long history of developing hybrid smartwatches alongside its more typical Wear OS smartwatches like this year’s Fossil Carlyle Gen 5. However, the company’s previous hybrid watches, like the Fossil Q Activist, used their watch hands to display notifications rather than including a screen. This prevented them from showing anything more complicated than which app was generating the notification.
Having a screen, however, means that the Fossil HR should be able to give you much more information. It’s not got the capabilities of a full Wear OS smartwatch (Fossil says it’s running on its internally developed Hybrid HR platform), but it can show you the number of steps you’ve walked, your heart rate, weather information, and notification previews. Fossil also says the smartwatch can control music playback, call your phone, and its 55 mAh battery can be charged to 100 percent in 60 minutes. However, there’s no GPS or Google Pay support.
The new Fossil HR smartwatch is available starting today.