I am a long-time fan of Fossil watches. They look presentable and the prices are reasonable. I also like that the straps are easily swappable with quick release pins. For a while I even owned the Fossil Q Grant, a hybrid smartwatch, which Fossil made popular.
I am also familiar with Android Wear OS smartwatches, back in the early days when many smartphone brands were fervent in adopting smartwatches. But as the wearable industry matures, many brands dropped out of the race.
Ironically, Fossil is one of the late entrants to smartwatch game, but that does not stop them from building the market share. What Fossil has done is to extend their design philosophy into wearables without missing a beat. When you buy a Fossil smartwatch, you are buying dozens of their traditional watchface designs, except you do not need to buy dozens of their watches. You just buy one smartwatch and change watchfaces and straps.
Compared to the previous generation, Q Explorist HR Gen 4 now comes with heart-rate sensor, better water proofing with 3 ATM water resistance, supports NFC payment (not available in Singapore yet), GPS. It takes away speaker so you cannot answer calls from the watch.
The watch crown can be turned to scroll the display, just like Apple Watch. The other 2 buttons are configurable to trigger actions or apps.
Users familiar with Android Wear OS will find the Fossil Q Explorist HR smartwatch no different. All apps and notifications are synced and presented on the watch as cards, and you can choose which apps to show. There are literally no “skinning”: the operations are as pure as it can get, including wrist gestures and Google Assistant. Unlike the Fossil hybrid models, there is no need for “Fossil Q” companion app on the smartphone: the smartwatch is connected using the stock “Wear OS” app. The only differentiation, albeit the most striking, with other Android smartwatches is the watchface designs. The Fossil Q watchfaces can be personalised with different colours, hand designs, and saved in the Fossil Q watch app.
The smartwatch feels like any Fossil timepiece, with its solid stainless steel bracelet and easy-to-swap quick-release pins, I could simply re-use my leather strap during the review period.
Activity tracking is synced to Google Fit, capturing steps, heart-rate, and recording GPS routes. Google Fit automatically journalises the activities as you move with the smartwatch and presents them in meaningful summaries. However, it does not track sleep.
The most disappointing thing about the watch is the battery life: it does not last more than a day. The battery could even drop 10% within 15 minutes of undocking and running some apps to test. I had to charge after about 20+ hours, and since the watch does not track sleep, I would recommend charging overnight instead of wearing to sleep. It is recommended to turn of NFC, since Google Pay over Wear OS is not supported in Singapore yet. The magnetic charging dock can be connected in any direction, giving much flexibility in resting the watch.
The Fossil Q newest Android smartwatch feels right at home for existing Fossil owners. At a retail price of S$489, it is an affordable wrist accessory for watch wearers who appreciate the feel of a real watch fitted with modern tech for advanced interaction with the smartphone. While I do not quite fancy Wear OS smartwatches, being a Fossil fan does make me think twice about getting one of these from Fossil.
Thanks Fossil Singapore for the smartwatch loan.