By Anuj Bhatia
The ‘herd’ mentality of following a trend and building a product around it is nothing new. In fact, some brands are just clone popular products and sell them under a new name with minimum changes. But the new Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid does not belong to the “clone” club. It’s a smartwatch that takes an entirely different approach compared to traditional smartwatches.
With its hybrid analog-digital design, an e-ink display, built-in ‘smart’ features and two weeks of battery life, the Gen 6 Hybrid is a fresh take on smartwatches.
The classic design
The Fossil Gen 6 Hybrid watch has a very classic appeal to it and it goes with everything from your official engagement to your morning walk. My review unit came in the 41mm rose gold case made of stainless steel and had a high-quality black leather band. It looks like a regular traditional watch but has an e-ink display—the same type of display you will see on Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader. It’s a high-impact watch, balancing form and function, and is available in a range of sizes and band options. It has a 3ATM rating; meaning it’s splashproof but not fit for swimming or diving.
The e-ink display is convenient
Unlike most smartwatches that either use LCD or OLED color displays, Fossil’s Gen 6 Hybrid uses an e-ink display. The benefits of e-ink displays are manifold, including superior battery life (more on that later) and outdoor readability. The watch’s display isn’t lit up automatically. You need to double-tap the display to see the time in the dark. The e-ink screen blends nicely with the watch faces, something I like about e-paper displays. Remember, the Gen 6 Hybrid has analog elements to it as well. The physical watch hands and number marking around the bezels aren’t there for decorative purposes. They never obstruct, the hands automatically move to the three and nine positions when scrolling through menus and the information is displayed above and below them.
The way you interact with the Gen 6 Hybrid is different from other smartwatches. The watch uses its own in-house operating system that is made for hybrid smartwatches like these. The interface takes a little time to adapt, but you get used to it. Upon pressing the crown, small icons for weather, music, notifications, heart rate, step count, etc., pop up on the main screen.
There’s no NFC for mobile payments, no microphone or speaker for calls, GPS or LTE connectivity. I guess this omission makes sense for a watch like this, which isn’t trying to be a full smartwatch. Of course, you can view notifications but the display is too small and you can’t reply.
The Gen 6 Hybrid helps track my heart rate, exercise, and even measure blood oxygen levels with the SpO2 sensor. The watch tracks heart-rate readings and step count and I can confirm that they are accurate (smartwatch heart rate scanners aren’t 100% accurate always).
Fossil claims the Gen 6 Hybrid can go two weeks on a single charge on average use. I have had the watch for a week and have charged it once though the device is still sitting at 56%.
Should you buy it?
After using it for a few days, the Gen 6 Hybrid, I have to admit, is no pushover. This hybrid smartwatch is for average users but has a niche feel to it. I can wear it 24×7 and still find it acceptable for what it offers.