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With Fossil's exit, my wardrobe's at war with tacky smartwatches

I don't dress up often, but when I do an Apple Watch doesn't quite cut it.
By

Published onJune 8, 2024

A Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro on a user wrists displays a blank screen.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Whether I’m two weeks into a 30-day training push or two days into a lazy holiday week, I’m rarely found without a smartwatch on my wrist. In fact, the tan line on my left arm is stark, and at this point, it’s in my best interest to strap on a device. And yet, on the rare occasions when I leave the house especially dressed up (i.e., a friend’s wedding), I almost always leave my watch behind. Why? Most fitness-tracking smartwatches scream “step counting in progress” rather than blend into formal wear like their traditional counterparts.

Fossil smartwatches are basically now, well, fossils

A Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid watch in its box rests on a wooden surface.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

For a long time, smartwatches from Fossil Group were the fashion-forward option for shoppers who wanted a classic aesthetic. In addition to Fossil smartwatches, the company touted connected devices from brands like Kate Spade, Skagen, and Michael Kors, and equipped design features ranging from sparkling pave stones to scalloped gold bezels and premium leather bands.

Fossil's departure from the smartwatch landscape further limits the number of devices with traditional aesthetics.

However, in January, Fossil announced it was exiting the smartwatch market, noting that the decision was strategic in light of the evolving landscape. In other words, they weren’t prepared to invest the resources needed to keep up with industry leaders. Frankly, the group’s top devices, including the latest Gen 6 family, were never quite at the same level as the likes of Apple, Google, or Samsung. Yet, Fossil’s departure echoes a shortcoming of the current market: attractive, classic-looking devices.

Classy for a smartwatch is not the same as classy

A variety of smartwatches and hybrid devices rest on a wooden surface.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

I love my Apple Watch Series 9 as much as the next iOS cult member. With the right band and an elegant watch face, I think it’s fairly sharp for a device that can do everything from making phone calls to tracking my cold, cold heart. I also think the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro is an attractive proposition, as is Mobvoi’s latest Wear OS device. I’m not personally a huge fan of the Pixel Watch line’s aesthetic, but I can appreciate its successful design cues in the same way I don’t wear stripes but can appreciate that tigers are pretty dope. In short, I absolutely feel smartwatch aesthetics have come a long way.

While many of today's top smartwatches have come a long way, they're still overtly sporty.

However, no one is wearing their Apple Watch down the aisle. Even with all their refinements, accessories, and carefully curated watch faces, smartwatches still look like smartwatches, especially with a black screen. The very few exceptions are extremely pricey. Garmin’s MARQ line, for example, starts at nearly $2,000. Another gorgeous option, the Withings Nova, runs about $600 but doesn’t offer staple smart features or built-in GPS. Even the flagship Withings ScanWatch 2, which would be a classy option at a good price, doesn’t quite pack the necessities needed for a true gym companion. Meanwhile, most luxury smartwatches don’t offer the same capabilities as their mainstream counterparts, leaving shoppers to choose between true style or comprehensive substance.

What's the best looking smartwatch?

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Hope on the horizon

An Oura Ring 3 rests in front of a hybrid smartwatch.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. Hybrid smartwatches continue to improve, potentially paving the way for a future traditional-looking device with a full toolkit. I’m also hoping (though not holding my breath) for something eye-catching from Apple’s tenth-anniversary device. The heavily rumored Apple Watch X is poised to land this fall. Likewise, if Google introduces a secondary case size or other tweaks to the next Pixel Watch, that series also has potential. But I doubt that every lineup will see a glow-up this year. For the sake of brevity, I’ll bite my tongue regarding the unconventional design of the upcoming Galaxy Watch 7.

What’s more, wrist-based wearables are no longer the only option for tracking stats. Smart rings have made a big impression these past few cycles, with Oura gaining staggering popularity. Though currently short in smart features, these tiny alternatives may be the perfect compromise once they’re beefed up. They already boast better battery life and subtlety than most AMOLED screen-touting smartwatches. They also leave a much more forgiving tan line on those of us who forget to SPF.

Until brands catch up in both style and substance, there may be an opening for smart rings to fill users' needs.

I’m particularly interested in seeing what Samsung offers on the upcoming Galaxy Ring. I doubt a ring-based wearable will ever be able to accomplish all that a smartwatch does, but it’s a very intriguing prospect. While I wait for the market to design truly upscale wristwear that tracks my high-heeled steps, swapping into a smart ring for special occasions might just be the short-term solution.

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