Ask a group of smartwatch fans about their favorite smartwatch of all time, and odds are you’ll hear the name Pebble. Pebble smartwatches were so popular years ago due to their e-ink displays and long battery life. We don’t normally see e-ink displays on smartwatches any more, but that’s changing today. Fossil has announced a new hybrid smartwatch called the Fossil Hybrid HR that has physical watch hands, two-week long battery life, and a display that’s very similar to the e-ink displays we used to see on Pebbles.
Let’s talk about that screen. No matter which model you choose — the more masculine Charter HR or more feminine Collider HR — both watches come with a 1.06-inch always-on “read-out” display (Fossil won’t say it’s using an e-ink display, but that’s essentially what it is). This e-ink-like display’s main benefits are outdoor visibility and the ability to last long on a single charge — perfect for a smartwatch. Fossil says the Hybrid HR’s battery can last upwards of two weeks without going back on the charger.
The display is hidden behind traditional analog watch hands, so you might not even be able to tell this is a smartwatch at first glance. The display can blend into the background of the watch as much as you’d like, too, or you can set it to show complications like your steps, heart rate, weather, and more. It’ll also show your call and text previews from your paired smartphone, and vibrate when new notifications come in.
As new notifications roll in, the physical watch hands automatically move to the 3 and 9 positions to let you see more of the screen, just like we saw on the LG Watch W7. You can also get the hands to move out of the way when you flick your wrist up or start navigating with the side buttons. The display isn’t illuminated all the time, but a dim light will come on when you double-tap the center of the watch.
Android Authority was able to spend some time with the Fossil Hybrid HR at IFA 2019. I have to say, I’m very excited to review this device. I’m one of the people who misses the days that Pebble ruled the smartwatch world, so this always-on display has me very excited.
The Fossil Hybrid HR isn’t just for looks — there are plenty of fitness features built in. It has an optical heart rate sensor, a 3ATM water resistance rating, and will track your workouts, including steps, distance, calories, active minutes, and sleep metrics. Unfortunately, the Hybrid HR doesn’t have connected GPS support.
Fossil is also debuting a new app experience that will let you see detailed activity metrics, progress over time, and allow you to swap watch faces and complications.
You’ve probably already guessed this, but the Hybrid HR is not a touchscreen smartwatch. Navigation is done via the physical buttons on the right side of the watch case. You can customize these buttons to perform specific actions, too, such as controlling your smartphone’s music.
The Fossil Hybrid HR is available for purchase on Fossil.com and Amazon starting at $195. If you’d rather swing for a model with a stainless steel strap, those will cost you $215. The Hybrid HR will also be coming to India on Monday, November 18.
So, what’s the verdict? Is the Fossil Hybrid HR for you?