Helping you pick a traditional watch with added smarts
What’s the difference between a smartwatch and a smart analogue watch? They might sound like the same thing, but there’s a way to tell the two apart from each other.
A hybrid smartwatch blurs traditional watch designs with contemporary fitness tracking and notification tech. You won’t see full touchscreen displays like you get on Android Wear watches or the Apple Watch, and you certainly won’t have to deal with a couple of days of battery life, that’s for sure. Those smarts are added in a more discreet and elegant way.
Whether you’re style obsessed or want something that’s good at tracking your steps without hammering the battery, here’s our pick of the top smart analogue watches to get around your wrist.
Best for design
Skagen Jorn / Hald Connected
With the 2017 Skagen Connected, the Fossil sub-brand has gone an extra step. There are now two versions: The Jorn, for men, and the Hald, for women. Both of them come in various styles, and they both retain the same minimalist look that Skagen’s dumb timepieces carry.
Activity and sleep tracking are present, but it’s all pretty basic. What is different this year is that the sub has been jettisoned. Instead, the face hands will move around and point to a different color based on your notifications.
The Jorn is available in two variations, a stainless steel with a tan leather strap and grey face, or a titanium with a grey face and 22mm black leather strap. The Hald comes in either rose gold, gold or stainless steel watch face variations, with different tan and 20mm black leather bands.
£165/$209, skagen.com | Amazon
If you’ve got a bit more money to play around with, Kronaby’s big collection of hybrid smartwatches are well worth checking out.
There’s models for men and women with high grade watch materials adding that touch of luxury and you can even swap out the wristbands. In terms of smarts, it keeps it basic on the fitness front with just step tracking, but you do get a vibrating buzzes for notifications and the ability to assign physical watch buttons to control features like music playback and remotely take smartphone pictures. There’s also a nice personal safety features that lets you send out a details of your current location to an assigned contact with the press of a button.
It packs decent smartwatch features into a sleek, stylish body and while there’s still room for improvement, it’s one of our current hybrid faves.
From £335 – £545/$425-/$692,kronaby.com
Best for fitness tracking
Nokia Steel HR
Nokia may have taken over the Withings brand, but the Steel HR is still very much the same equation. And while it also may only appear to be a minor upgrade over the sleek Withings Activité Steel, it’s so much more than that.
Carrying the same stainless steel casing, chrome hands and silicone strap as previous editions, you know get an additional dynamic digital screen to view data including activity tracking and smartphone notifications.
As the name suggests, there’s a heart rate monitor on board as well to continuously monitor heart rate during the day and during workouts.
Battery life is a more than respectable 25 days and there are two different watch case models to take your pick from. The device technically isn’t available until this fall, but we do know the price will remain the same.
£169.95/$216, nokia.com |Amazon
The Garmin Vivomove just focuses on steps and sleep, making it far simpler than any other Garmin watch in the company’s line up. Certainly more male-friendly at 12mm thick, it’s not nearly as svelte as the Activité (below).
It boasts a 5ATM waterproof (50 metres approx), which means it’s fine for the pool, although it’s hardly the Garmin Swim in terms of captured metrics. But you do get rewarded for your strokes.
Our favourite part of the Vivomove is the Move bar, which fills up with a bright red warning of impending death as you sit about on your slothenly butt. It makes the Vivomove one of the more effective fitness tracking features at you active, which should be precisely what they’re all about.
The Vivomove is available in Sport, Classic and Premium models.
From £139.99/$177, garmin.com | Amazon
Again, while Nokia is now running the Withings show, the Activité still marks the first great example of marrying slick analogue watch styling with tech smarts.
The Android- and iOS-friendly watch is built from luxurious materials with its stainless steel casing and domed sapphire glass accompanying a calf leather strap. There’s even an additional sports strap to take it for a dip in the pool.
It’ll count steps, measure distance, monitor sleep and detect swimming automatically, syncing data to the solid Nokia Health Mate app. It also features a silent vibrating alarm and promises a hefty 8 months of battery life.
Although the Activité is no longer available through Nokia, you can still pick it up on Amazon.
£302/$383, nokia.com | Amazon
Best for iOS – Fossil Q Grant
Android phone owners, steer clear. While the Fossil Q Grant is designed to work with Google-running smartphones, we didn’t have the greatest experiences with it.
That’s not to say that Fossil’s smart analogue debut doesn’t make a good impression. A watch first and fitness tracker second, the Grant comes in four different designs and has 22mm removable straps so you can customise to your heart’s content.
Activity tracking is kept to a minimum, counting steps and nothing more. You can’t read notifications on it, but a little blue LED and vibrating buzz will let you know someone is trying to get in touch.
Fossil has added to its smart analogue collection in a big way since the Q Grant, with four new men and women-friendly ranges, including the stainless steel Q Crewmaster, rose gold Q Tailor and bling-tastic Q Gazer.
£165/$209, fossil.com | Amazon
Best for simplicity – Misfit Phase
Misfit’s first hybrid smartwatch, the Misfit Phase, is a strong debut, delivering a handful of smarts without a single sub-eye. It does make interpreting some notifications a little tricky, mind, but there’s no denying the Phase is a real looker.
The Phase will track your steps and sleep using Misfit’s activity tech, while the hands will move to signify a new notification, as well as the shifting colour wheel that can be seen through a small window at the six o’clock mark. All of the smarts are hidden under the surface, giving the Phase the feel of a classic, understated watch.
We’d like it to do a bit more in the smarts department, but if you want something that’s simple, tracks your activity, and looks good, this is a strong choice.
£135/$171, misfit.com | Amazon
Best on a budget – Withings Activité Pop
The Withings Activité doesn’t come cheap, but if you can live without the luxurious build quality, the Pop is still a great option.
Metal is ditched for plastic, but it retains the attractive design charm of its bigger brother. It also offers the very same activity tracking and alarm features so you can save yourself a bit of money, keep an eye on your steps and not have to worry about carrying around a charger.
Like its more expensive brethren, this is no longer being sold by the new Nokia overlords. However, Amazon is still stocking the Pop, so pick it up while you can.
£109.95/$139, nokia.com | Amazon
The Diesel On collection formed part of Fossil Group’s mammoth unveiling at Baselworld 2017 back in February, and will drop in multiple colours.
The device itself is typically Diesel – bulky and industrial while still offering a stylish build. In terms of smarts, the On watches come with basic activity tracking and notifications, while the two ‘pushers’ on either side of the crown can be assigned to specific tasks.
Pricing details remain scarce, but we do know the hybrid collection will roll out in autumn 2017.
Alpina Comtesse Horological
Alpina has kept a fairly consistent philosophy when it comes to hybrid smartwatches: stay traditional and unnoticeably key in the smarts.
This has usually focused on the more masculine entries, though, until the company unveiled the Comtesse Horological for women at Baselworld. The 36mm frame comes in four colour variations, allowing users to track fitness, sleep and receive notifications for calls and emails.
No details are currently available regarding price, release date or battery for the Comtesse collection.
Marc Jacobs Riley
If you’re looking for your hybrid to have a designer edge, Marc Jacobs now has you covered – releasing two styles of the new Riley connected smartwatch line.
There’s fitness tracking for you to view via the companion app, vibrations for smartphone calls, message and app alerts and a long-lasting coin cell battery so you won’t need to charge it every night.
The designs are based on the regular, dumb Riley watches, though the connected variants have three buttons which you can set to specific features.
The devices are set to drop in autumn later this year, but price points are yet to be released for the colourful, plastic hybrids.
Fossil Q Accomplice and Q Activist
Fossil Group may have been busy unveiling a bevy of watches at Baselworld 2017, but it didn’t forget about the Fossil brand itself. As well as launching more traditional smartwatches, it also found time to unveil the Q Accomplice (shown above) and Q Activist hybrids.
These analogue watches have smarts built in for activity tracking and smartwatch-style notifications, with the latter being the notable upgrade in this generation.
The fresh devices also feature “customisable pushers” – or, you know, buttons – which can be set to a host of functions, from remote camera shutter to ‘find my phone’.
The Q Accomplice has just dropped, with prices ranging from £165/$209 to £185/$235 – look out for our review shortly. However, it’s unknown when the Q Activist could release, or what its price could be.