by James A. Martin

15 hot hybrid smartwatches for the holidays

Nov 10, 2016
Consumer ElectronicsMobileSmall and Medium Business

Hybrid smartwatches look like traditional watches, but they track various activities, such as steps and sleep, and perform other advanced functions. They're also suddenly everywhere, thanks to fancy options from brands like Fossil, Emporio Armani and Michael Kors.

The best hybrid smartwatches of 2016

If you haven’t yet heard of “hybrid smartwatches,” or “smart analog watches,” you soon will.

A hybrid smartwatch provides, in theory, the best of both the smartwatch and traditional-watch worlds. It has the face of a traditional watch and the brains of an activity tracker. Are smart analog watches as good as dedicated activity trackers from Fitbit, or smartwatches from Apple or Android Wear watch makers? Many make some compromises, but on the bright side, the watches shown here don’t require frequent recharging, they look ultra-stylish, and they vary widely in price, from reasonably affordable ($130) to budget-busting ($2,495).

Here are 15 of the latest hybrid smartwatch models, most released recently and many within the past few weeks.

Misfit Phase

02 misfit phase

Image by Mistfit

Misfit, an activity tracker company that watch-maker Fossil acquired, recently introduced its first hybrid smartwatch, Phase ($175 to $195). The watch has a minimalist face, comes in six different models, and it automatically tracks steps, distance, calories and sleep. The watch is water resistant up to about 164 feet for swimming, it discreetly lets you know you have smartphone notifications using vibrations, and a “smart button” lets you play music or take a selfie on your connected smartphone. Phase watches reportedly run for six months on one replaceable coin cell battery. And they’re expected to be available for preorder starting Nov. 7.

Fossil Q Tailor

03 fossil q tailor

Image by Fossil Group

FossilRemove product linkjust released four lines of 12 different hybrid smartwatches. The looks of the smartwatches in each line vary, but all of Fossil’s hybrids share the same features. Each tracks steps, calories burned and sleep, and you can view all these stats via the Fossil Q mobile app for Android and iOS. They provide customizable smartphone notifications and calendar alerts, offer alarm functions and support multiple time zones. Fossil says the user-removable batteries will last for up to six months. You can also buy additional Fossil Q bands, which start $25.

The Fossil Q Tailor line includes three models: a light-brown leather band model with gold-tone case; a light-brown leather band model with rose-gold case; and a navy-blue banded watch with rose-gold case. Each costs $195.

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Fossil Q Crewmaster

04 fossil q crewmaster

Image by Fossil Group

We tested Fossil’s Q Crewmaster, the $175 model with black silicone strap, black face, and two-tone rotating bezel. The watches have a masculine look and are somewhat heavy. We also appreciate the programmable bottom button, which lets you trigger an alarm on your smartphone, control music playback or snap photos. In our tests, however, the watch consistently underreported daily steps traveled. On one day, for instance, the Q Crewmaster recorded 10,100 steps compared to the 12,964 steps we saw on a Fitbit’s Charge 2 and 13,385 from an Apple Watch. The Fossil watch typically underreported sleep time, too. The blue silicone and stainless steel models both cost $195.

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Fossil Q Gazer

05 fossil q gazer

Image by Fossil Group

Q Gazer comes in three variations, all with Roman numerals and crystal accents: one stainless steel, one with a gray leather band (both $215) and a rose-gold stainless steel model ($235). All three models look urbane and elegant.

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Fossil Q Nate

06 fossil q nate

Image by Fossil Group

Fossil Q Nate is also available in three looks: dark brown leather ($195), stainless steel ($195), and black stainless steel ($215). All of them have black watch faces. The stainless steel model appears to have the most legible face, with hands and numerals that contrast. The other two models have a “blacked out dial,” which looks cool but probably doesn’t help read the time easily.

Movado Bold Motion

07 movado bold motion

Image by Movado Group

Movado is famous for its “Museum watch,” with its streamlined dial that has no numerals, only a dot at the 12-o’clock position. The company incorporated the iconic dot design into its classy hybrid smartwatches. The most affordable Movados are three Bold Motion models engineered by HP. The watches feature haptic alerts for phone calls, calendar reminders, email, text messages and social media alerts. Tiny LED lights around the inner edge of the dial illuminate when alerts come in. Bold Motion watches track steps but no other activities. The watches cost $695 with a black silicone strap, $795 with a stainless steel link bracelet, and $895 for a black stainless steel casing and matching stainless bracelet.

Movado Circa Motion

08 movado circa motion

Image by Movado Group

Movado Circa Motion wristwatches add sleep tracking to the mix and include a subdial that displays progress toward daily activity and sleep goals. The watches also provide reminders to get up and move at regular intervals, and their replaceable batteries reportedly last up to two years. Three models exist in the lineup: an ivory dial with stainless steel case for $1,195, a yellow stainless steel case with ivory dial for $1,295, and a red (similar to rose gold) stainless steel case with black dial for $1,295.

Movado Museum Sport Motion

09 movado museum sport motion

Image by Movado Group

The Museum Sport Motion watch features a numberless, black-dial design with a subdial that displays progress toward daily steps and sleep goals. The Museum Sport Motion line includes three models, one with a black leather strap ($995), one with a stainless steel link bracelet ($1,195), and a model with a black stainless steel link bracelet ($1,495). The no-nonsense looks are masculine and minimalist.

Movado Bellina Motion

10 movado bellina motion

Image by Movado Group

Movado’s Bellina Motion line is a softer, more feminine variation of the Circa Motion lineup. The watch goes for $1,495 with a stainless steel case, $1,695 for a yellow and stainless steel watch case, and $2,495 for a stainless steel case encrusted with diamonds.

Withings Activité Pop

11 movado

Image by Withings

French consumer electronics company Withings, owned by Nokia, offers a range of stylish, traditional-looking watches that double as activity trackers. At $130, Activité Pop is the most affordable option. The watches come in four colors (blue, coral, sand and “shark grey”), and they track activities such as steps, distance, calories, sleep and swimming. (The watches are water resistant up to about 164 feet.) The line features a replaceable battery that lasts up to eight months, according to Withings. A subdial shows daily step progress. Withings didn’t skimp on materials, either; the Activité Pop’s case is stainless steel with a PVD coating. Additional silicon wristbands cost $30 and leather bands cost $80.

Withings Activité Steel

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Image by Withings

The $150 Activité Steel hybrid smartwatch offers all the same core features as the Activité Steel Pop but comes in more colors.

Withings Steel HR

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Image by Withings

Introduced in early September, Withings’s Steel HR is the first analog activity-tracking watch with heart-rate monitoring features, according to the company. The watch can reportedly go for 25 days before it needs a recharge, which is a rarity among heart-rate trackers. Though the display looks traditional, it also shows non-watch-related information, such as smartphone notifications and heart rate. The watch comes in 36mm ($180) and 40mm ($200) sizes.

Emporio Armani EA Connected Watch

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Image by Giorgio Armani

Fossil tapped fashion brands to help develop hybrid smartwatches. Among those brands is Emporio Armani, which in October introduced the 43mm EA Connected Watch line. The watches track activities and sleep, promise six-month life via replaceable batteries, let you control music on your connected smartphone, and provide subtle smartphone notifications. Like many other hybrid smartwatches, the EA Connected Watch automatically adjusts to new time zones. The stainless steel watch line is available in five styles, including one with a blue leather strap with “sunray silver” face ($245) and a model with a black stainless steel strap and “sunray black” face ($395).

Michael Kors Access Gage and Slim Runway

15 michael kors

Image by Michael Kors

Fashion brand Michael Kors, another Fossil partner, just released the Michael Kors Access Gage watch, a 45mm stainless steel device with activity and sleep-tracking features that can last for up to six months on a swappable coin cell battery. It comes in two styles: black face with brown leather band ($250) and blue face with link bracelet ($325). A 42mm Access Slim Runway model is also available, which is functionally the same but looks softer, available with a gold-colored face and link bracelet model and in an all-black version ($250 each). As of this writing, neither hybrid smartwatch is available on Michael Kors’s website, though the brand’s activity trackers and Android-based smartwatches are listed for sale.