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The Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is health-focused but lacks focus
Fossil’s Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition boasts an elegant build, upgraded features, and a sleek blend of traditional looks with fitness tracking smarts. Its e-ink display also keeps the device’s battery life up to Fossil’s impressive standards. However, while the hybrid watch may be a class act, it’s not the perfect companion for a gym class. In short, the watch lands in an unfortunate limbo between a timepiece and a health tool, without necessarily nailing either one.
Display, bands, and design
Before getting ahead of myself, I will lay the disclaimer that looks are subjective. Most people shop for a hybrid smartwatch because they want to prioritize aesthetics. The Gen 6 Hybrid wellness edition echoes traditional Fossil smartwatch design cues, and in many ways delivers an attractive product. Compared to a full-blown smartwatch, the device is refined, modest, and far less tech-forward.
It is available in three colorways: navy, black, and blush. I tested the black model and found the monochromatic effect appealing. The navy option has a preppy, nautical vibe, and the blush option is fairly effeminate. What I struggled with personally is that the watch doesn’t feel quite elevated enough for dressy occasions. Admittedly, the alternative colorways strike a closer chord with shiny metallic accents, but the black option seems to fall somewhere awkwardly between sporty and casual.
The Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is an attractive device with prominent Fossil design cues and a casual aesthetic.
Overall, the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is fine for day-to-day wear, but if this were my only watch, I would not feel satisfied. There were a few occasions when wearing it felt out of place (i.e. when dressed up for a celebratory dinner out). This is significant because I have tested other hybrid watches that didn’t feel unfit for evening wear. Likewise, the watch face itself is customizable, but regardless of which option I chose, I still ended up with an overtly athletic impression.
Moving on from subjective looks, the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is comfortable, lightweight, and refined. Though it only comes in a single 45mm case size, it didn’t feel bulky or oversized. The band, unfortunately, is about one notch short of a good fit for my wrist, so anyone with dainty limbs may need to adjust. This proved especially problematic for fitness tracking, but more on that below.
The strap also collected dust excessively and I actually found myself lint-rolling it for photography. The photo at the top of this section shows what the band looks like on a typical day sans special attention. Luckily, the device utilizes 20mm quick-release bands, so it would be easy for shoppers to grab a third-party alternative if needed.
The 1.1-inch E-ink display is plenty visible in daylight, but less ideal after hours. Though you can double-tap the screen to light up the watch face, I often struggled to see data in the dark. More specifically, in the wee hours of the morning, I found the struggle to illuminate the time particularly cumbersome. If I am trying to determine whether I have any time left to sleep, I don’t want to waste precious moments fiddling in frustration.
Call me a stickler, but I tend to have high expectations when products include keywords in their naming convention. In this case, I hoped Fossil would deliver a powerful wellness tool. The Gen 6 Hybrid does offer SpO2 tracking, Vo2 Max, heart rate monitoring, activity tracking, and basic sleep tracking. It also boasts automatic workout detection for the most common activities, which I found generally successful. I had one walk fail to register on day one, but I had multiple others work just fine.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great experience with the device’s heart rate sensor, which was most likely due to the fit being too loose. My daily highs and lows rarely matched up with those stats recorded by my Apple Watch Series 8 during this review period. However, when I took on-demand readings with my wrist flat and the sensor making solid contact, the numbers were more accurate. I also frequently found my SpO2 readings differed from my Apple Watch as well as from my fingertip pulse oximeter.
The health and fitness data collected by the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition isn't as considerable as I expected, and sensor limitations made tracking a less than ideal experience.
As on many hybrids, GPS on the Gen 6 Hybrid is not built-in but relies on your phone’s sensor. For that reason, accuracy isn’t really a factor. On the runs I recorded, the Fossil device recorded comparable distances and data to other wearables, but again, this was thanks to my phone rather than anything inherent about the watch. Most significantly, this means you’ll need to take your phone with you for GPS-based workouts, which is never ideal. Despite my best efforts, most of my running gear does not have pockets and I like my hands free to clutch at my chest during uphills.
3ATM water resistance is also the lowest I have seen in a long time. I found this rating surprising on what I anticipated to be a workout-focused hybrid. According to Fossil, the watch can withstand splashes of water but shouldn’t be worn for bathing or swimming. This translates to disappointment for anyone looking to cross-train in a pool, and for me, somewhat paranoid dishwashing experiences. While I usually take off my wearables to shower anyway, the fact that you have to with this device is one more thing to worry about forgetting.
What is the difference between Gen 6 Wellness and Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness?
The nature of a hybrid is that it’s only part smartwatch. As a result, you won’t encounter all the features you might expect on a dedicated wearable. On the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition, you’ll find onboard music controls, (though no music storage), smartphone notifications, and the ability to preview incoming calls. The watch also displays weather details and can access Amazon Alexa when connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. A built-in microphone allows you to pose queries and the answers arrive typed on the screen, giving off real magic 8-ball vibes. The process isn’t rapid but it works fine enough. The answers were largely helpful, and the text is very legible.
Unlike on the regular Gen 6 Wellness, you won’t find Google Pay or the Google Play Store. Fossil’s Gen 6 smartwatches have finally tapped into the latest Wear OS platform and the experience is much more robust than what you’ll find on the Hybrid edition. The Hybrid does not run on Wear OS, and generally doesn’t offer an especially snappy software experience. Navigating can be slow, with a delayed refresh rate very similar to that of a Kindle.
On the other hand, the benefits of a hybrid are simple user navigation and wonderful battery life. Regarding the former first, the device is not a touchscreen, so you’ll use three push buttons to tour its features. The middle button acts as a home button, while the others serve as up and down arrows within menus. You can customize the top and bottom buttons to anything you want, and I found setting mine to Workouts and Alexa served me best throughout this Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition review.
One highlight of this edition is the Wellness Dashboard where you can check out at-a-glance health stats. You can also springboard from this screen to take on-demand heart rate and SpO2 ratings. These readings are slow compared to those on other devices, and as mentioned, the SpO2 wasn’t always accurate. My on-demand heart rate readings tended to be more reliable than those during workouts because the readings weren’t hindered by the loose fit of the watch.
Navigating the Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is simple and the battery life is fantastic.
Without extra sensors, smart features, or a flashy, colorful display, the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition also delivers fantastic battery life. It easily lasted the full two-week claim during my review, even with GPS workouts and sleep tracking. When I finally needed to charge back up, getting from 0 to 100 took under 90 minutes.
A limited companion app may leave you wanting
The Fossil Smartwatches app takes some getting used to if you’re transitioning from a different ecosystem. Compared to the Fitbit companion app, for example, it’s quite bare. Below a generic image of your device, you’ll spot a scrollable “For You” banner chock full of ads. During the initial setup, this can be a frustrating choice by Fossil. I kept thinking I was tapping to learn something about the hybrid, and instead, I’d end up on Fossil’s website being prompted to buy another device.
The Fossil Smartwatches app is not especially robust or useful but houses your basic stats and offers tools for customizing your device.
Below the For You section is a second horizontal menu labeled Wellness. This menu contains icons for all your basic health details ranging from steps to heart rate to sleep data. You can review the at-a-glance stats or tap each category to access more details. In general, I was surprised by the limited depth of the app’s wellness section. Each category offers the basics with weekly and monthly views, but very little insight or complexity. Given its name, I’d hoped the watch would provide more health guidance and analysis.
I spent the most time on the companion app customizing my button shortcuts, preferences, and watch faces. As mentioned, you can choose to set your top and bottom buttons to a range of shortcuts depending on your personal use. In the app, you can also set alarms, set move goals, and link your watch to third-party apps such as Google Fit.
You can also customize your watch face. In addition to the exclusive Wellness Light and Wellness Dark watch faces, there are a variety of utilitarian options. You can add or remove complications, customize the use of black and white, select fonts, and much more. You can even create faces from scratch with personal photos. I had a lot of fun uploading images to see how they would look on the e-ink display.
Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition review: Is it worth buying?
It may sound like a cop-out but it’s hard to say whether the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is the right device for every (or any) shopper. For me, the feature set is too limited and the sensors are too unreliable to justify the cost. I also personally don’t find the aesthetic dressy enough to warrant a spot on my wrist over my Apple Watch. Likewise, compared to a hybrid like the Garmin vivomove Sport ($179 at Amazon), the wellness moniker doesn’t deliver enough punch. The companion app is oversimplified and the health and fitness data lacks depth.
I wouldn't rush to throw a Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Edition in my shopping cart, but that doesn't mean it's not a good option for loyal Fossil analog users.
On the other hand, if you are a long-time Fossil fan who wants a smartened version of your favorite analog, this might fit the bill. It’s clearly a well-designed watch with a few convenient extras like notifications and basic fitness tracking. Details such as move reminders and custom goal setting are impactful for users looking to keep wellness top of mind. Plus, the wellness dashboard is digestible and gets to the point efficiently. I can’t recommend the device for serious athletes, but those individuals are unlikely to be reading this review in the first place. If the styling of the device serves your accessory needs, you can grab one now for $229.
Top Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition questions and answers
Yes, the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition is compatible with both Android phones and iPhones.
The Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition has a 3ATM water resistance rating which is only really suitable for rainfall and splashes of water. You should be able to take it in the shower, but not for a swim.
No. You will receive phone call notifications but can not answer calls or text messages on the Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid Wellness Edition.