Fossil is reimagining the hybrid smartwatch. The new Hybrid HR cleverly mixes the best part of the true hybrid — decent battery life — and the pull of always being able to see the time, with the convenience of clear notifications, a customizable display, and extensive fitness tracking. There are two models, separated by the size of the strap. The Collider HR comes with a 22mm strap, while the Charter HR has an 18mm strap. Both have 42mm bodies with 27mm displays, and are made from stainless steel.
The display is a low-power e-paper screen just like on your e-book reader, which shows little complications and notification alerts underneath mechanical hands. A vibration alert tells you there’s new information, while the customizable complications show heart rate, weather details, the date, and step count. Interestingly, you can turn off some or all of these complications for a sleeker, more standard watch look, and even change the background too.
On the back of the Hybrid HR is a heart rate sensor, a feature more often found on full touchscreen smartwatches, mostly due to the energy draw and requirement for a screen to show data. Here, it’s joined by steps, distance, calorie, and sleep tracking, all of which can be monitored through the complications and through a new app. What else? There are workout modes — another new hybrid watch feature — along with music control, alarms, timers, a stopwatch, and a find-your-phone feature.
What effect has this had on the battery life? Hybrid watches we’ve seen before have had battery life of between six months and a couple of years. Sadly, the Hybrid HR can’t match this, and will return about two weeks of battery life on a single charge if you’re using all the features. It’s a definite improvement over the one day we get from a WearOS watch, but very different from what we expect from a hybrid model. When it does come time to recharge, it only takes an hour.
The Hybrid HR’s design is very appealing, and when we tried on an early example the watch was very comfortable to wear, and looked really great on the wrist. The screen is more obvious in the photos than it is in real life, and at a distance, it’s very difficult to tell it’s a smartwatch at all — quite an achievement for a watch that does have a screen. The app wasn’t ready at the time, so this hasn’t been tested, but the potential of Fossil’s new watch is exciting, as it does fill a gap between full hybrid watches, and full touchscreen smartwatches. Fossil knows how to design a watch, and it shows here, thanks to the varying strap sizes, and differentiation in color schemes.
There are five different color schemes to choose from, with prices ranging from $195 to $215, which does mean the price is creeping up to the level of some designer full touchscreen smartwatches. However, one size has never fit all when it comes to smartwatches, and the more options there are, the more people will be tempted to try one out.