There are lots of hybrid smartwatches out there, but none quite like the Fossil Group’s lineup. I’m talking of course about 2020’s Fossil Hybrid HR. It uses a power-friendly e-ink display to provide smartwatch functions in a subtle way. Now, the company has brought the same technology to the Skagen brand with the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR.
Skagen’s first Hybrid HR smartwatch is classy and innovative but still suffers from some lingering software issues. Read our full Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR review to find out if this is the right hybrid watch for you.
What you need to know about the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR
The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is a hybrid smartwatch built on Fossil Group’s relatively new e-ink smartwatch platform. In essence, it’s the same as Fossil’s original Hybrid HR from 2020. However, it offers new watch faces, a slightly different app experience, and, of course, a design from the Skagen brand.
A hybrid smartwatch is a device that lands somewhere in between a typical touchscreen smartwatch and a regular ol’ analog watch. It has some smart features. Those include support for smartphone notifications, activity tracking, weather details, and music controls. However, you won’t find more advanced features like voice assistants or support for contactless payments. It’s a smartwatch for those who want the bare minimum.
Fossil Group’s Hybrid HR platform does things differently from other hybrids though. The watches have e-ink displays behind the traditional physical watch hands. The physical watch hands make the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR look like a traditional timepiece, while the e-ink display shows other essentials like your step count and heart rate.
Don’t miss: Fossil Hybrid HR review: Beautifully flawed
What’s good about the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR?
Skagen’s Danish-inspired design language is rooted in minimalism and shines through in the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR. Frankly, this watch is gorgeous. The brushed stainless steel case, chamfered bezel, and sporty-yet-classic watch strap will no doubt appeal to a wide user base. Personally, I love Skagen’s understated design language.
Skagen's new Hybrid HR watch is gorgeous.
Not only does it look nice, but the hardware is an all-around improvement over the Fossil Hybrid HR. The three pushers on the right side of the watch case are clickier and less mushy than Fossil’s offering. They’re not perfect, but they are better.
The e-ink display has its downsides (more on that later), but it also has one big benefit: battery longevity. Most OLED-touting smartwatches last less than five or six days. The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR, on the other hand, can last upwards of two weeks depending on how you use it. I am on track to get exactly two weeks of battery life based on my previous usage. I’ve been fiddling with the display and working out quite a bit too. You could probably get out a day or two more if you rarely interact with the watch itself.
With its e-ink display, the Hybrid HR mirrors your smartphone’s notifications, shows things like your daily step count, caloric burn, and heart rate. It also lets you control the music playing on your smartphone. Because the display is so subtle, you can utilize the smartwatch features as much or as little as you’d like. Personally, I only use “smart” features (checking notifications or step counts) when it’s convenient as opposed to checking religiously throughout the day.
If you’re not keen on Skagen’s simple stock watch face, you can create your own in the new Skagen Hybrid Smartwatch app. You can add more complications, change the preset designs, and even add your own photos to your watch face. Fossil’s Hybrid HR also has a thriving community on Reddit for sharing user-created watch faces. I do think Skagen could make more of an effort with its default watch face options, however. There are only a handful available at the time of this writing.
Like the Fossil Hybrid HR, Skagen’s device also has a backlight that can be triggered by a double-tap of the watch face. Additionally, if the watch hands get in the way of reading the display, a quick flick of the wrist will move them out of the way. (See it in action here.)
Those with smaller wrists will be happy to hear that Skagen is releasing two sizes of the Jorn Hybrid HR: 42 and 38mm. Our Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR review unit is 42mm. It fits well on my average-sized wrists.
The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR doubles as a fitness tracker too. It can keep track of your daily steps, caloric burn, heart rate, sleep, and distance via connected GPS. It supports ten workout profiles. Those include run, cycle, hike, walk, treadmill, elliptical, weights, row machine, spin, and a generic workout profile. There is also automatic activity detection for run, cycle, walk, and row machine.
The Jorn Hybrid HR’s step tracking numbers were on par with those of my Garmin Forerunner 245. I also experienced no issues when connecting the watch to my phone for an outdoor run with connected GPS.
Additionally, sleep tracking has been all-around accurate from what I can tell. I tested it over multiple nights against the Fitbit Sense (one of our favorite sleep trackers), and the results more or less lined up.
Nevertheless, I would not rely on the Hybrid HR’s heart rate sensor to deliver accurate numbers, at least for higher-intensity workouts. Below, you’ll find a ~32-minute treadmill run with the Skagen watch (blue) and the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro (purple).
There are some important things to note here. First, the data will look a little odd. This is because the Skagen watch only reports heart rate readings every 40 seconds or so. Contrast that with the second-by-second data from the Fenix 6 Pro, and the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR definitely missed out on some of the nuances in this workout. There are many points in this run where the Skagen watch flat-out missed bigger peaks and valleys.
Even so, it stuck with the overall heart rate trend throughout the run. Average heart rate numbers were spot-on with the Garmin watch. For what it’s worth, I’ve also had no qualms with the resting heart rate data from the Skagen watch compared to the Fenix 6 Pro and Fitbit Sense.
Also read: The best Fossil smartwatches you can buy
I doubt many people who buy this watch will be expecting a top-of-the-line fitness experience anyway. So, keep that in mind, but don’t let it be a dealbreaker for you.
And yes, if you know anyone else who owns a Skagen hybrid watch, you can participate in fitness challenges right in the Skagen app. Unfortunately, Fossil hybrid owners have their own pool of challenges. You will therefore need to know another Skagen user, not just anyone with a Fossil Group hybrid.
Are there any downsides?
I’ll start by saying that developing software for an e-ink display must be difficult, at least in a smartwatch form factor. We only saw Pebble (RIP) really master its user interface in its later years, making the transition to color e-ink displays with smoother animations. Unfortunately, many of the navigation issues we found with the Fossil Hybrid HR also span to Skagen’s watch.
Navigating around the user interface is, in a word, slow. There’s a noticeable lag when pressing any of the hardware buttons to pull up your notifications or even the bare-bones workout screen. Scrolling through the settings menu can also be frustrating. Button presses don’t feel as responsive as they should.
I think some work also needs to be done on the user interface layout in general. The Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR has basic smartwatch apps like a timer, a stopwatch, and a weather app. Yet, getting to your apps list requires you to long-press the center button and scroll past certain apps that should remain in the background, like regulatory info and the About screen. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to sort the order in which the apps appear. I think an easily accessible all-apps list would really benefit the UI here.
Overall, the on-device software isn’t in a bad place, but it could use some TLC. From what I hear from the Fossil Group team, they are very committed to this platform and plan to keep improving it over time.
Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR review: Should you buy it?
I think a lot of people will be really happy with the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR. It holds its classic design without leaning too much into smartwatch territory. There are just enough smart features to satisfy people who don’t want to go all-in on smartwatches.
Nevertheless, the e-ink display does leave me wanting more from the software experience. Although I trust Fossil Group to continue issuing new and useful updates throughout the watch’s lifecycle, that doesn’t necessarily make a case for buying the watch now.
Even so, the Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR is an all-around good, if limited, wearable worth checking out if you’re interested in hybrid smartwatches.
That’s all for our Skagen Jorn Hybrid HR review. Let us know your thoughts on the hybrid smartwatch in the comments and subscribe below to never miss out on any of Android Authority‘s reviews.